darren.chester.mp@aph.gov.au 1300 131 785
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April 30, 2013

The State Labor Opposition should focus on supporting efforts to upgrade Latrobe Regional Hospital (LRH) rather than scoring cheap political points according to Federal Member for Gippsland Darren Chester.

State Shadow Parliamentary Secretary for Health Wade Noonan told the Latrobe Valley Express last week that local ambulances were ‘increasingly being used as pop-up emergency departments’, criticising LRH’s ability to deal with emergency patients.

Mr Chester said despite significant community support, LRH was unsuccessful in its applications to attract $65 million in Federal Labor Government funding to help build a new emergency department, provide additional endoscopy facilities and more beds for acute care.

He said State Labor MPs needed to start assisting the LRH Board to obtain the funding by lobbying their Labor colleague and Federal Health Minister, Tanya Plibersek.

“The LRH Board and management made strong but ultimately unsuccessful funding applications to the Federal Government and now those programs have closed,” Mr Chester said.

“The Minister hasn’t even bothered to respond to written requests for a meeting to discuss the project, at a time of her convenience, for the benefit of the LRH Board.

“Rather than putting extra pressure on LRH by grandstanding in the media, State Labor MPs should be contacting the Minister to stress the urgent need to at least meet with local Board members and discuss future funding options.”

Mr Chester said Labor Member for Easter Region Matt Viney had already registered his support for the project in State Parliament.

Mr Viney this month told Parliament ‘we need a whole range of investments in health. We need investment in the next stage of the Latrobe Regional Hospital.’

“I was pleased to see Mr Viney publicly join over 2000 local residents who signed a petition calling for the LRH upgrade project to be funded by the Federal Government,” Mr Chester said.

“I now urge him to take the next step by asking Minister Plibersek to meet with the LRH Board to discuss what avenues can be explored to help bring this important project to fruition.”

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