Health Services in Jamestown

The Hon. J.S.L. DAWKINS: On 12 October, I was pleased to attend the launch of the Mid North Suicide Prevention Network in Jamestown. More than 200 people packed the local memorial hall on a Friday night for this event, which was hosted by Andrew Stacey, chair of the network, and compered by Adam Clay of the Office of the Chief Psychiatrist. It was a privilege to present the state government's cheque for $5,000 as an establishment grant, which accompanies the launch of all suicide prevention networks. The role of the Northern Areas Council and the initial contact with me by Mayor Denis Clark in 2016 in the establishment of the network should also be acknowledged. Will the minister update the council on other health services at Jamestown?

The Hon. S.G. WADE (Minister for Health and Wellbeing) (15:16): I thank the honourable member for his question and pay tribute to his continued leadership on both rural health issues and suicide prevention. I had the pleasure of attending Jamestown Hospital recently for the opening of the new theatre suite at the hospital. The opening follows a significant upgrade, during which Jamestown Hospital theatre was closed from 18 May this year to the end of June.

The works undertaken will enable the Jamestown Hospital to retain its level III certification, allowing the continuation of birthing and surgery services at the hospital. That is no small matter for the Jamestown community. As honourable members would know, country regional communities greatly value the capacity to be able to form and raise their families within the region.

In 2016-17, 44 mothers delivered their babies at Jamestown. An additional 27 babies were welcomed in 2017-18, reduced as the theatre had to be closed during the upgrade works. Jamestown also performs a significant number of surgical services, with just over 270 surgeries performed there each year, including elective surgeries and colonoscopies.

The honourable member will know that the government's commitment to improving health services across regional South Australia is strong. The state government allocated $250,000 through Country Health SA. This was supported by a contribution of $100,000 by the Friends of the Jamestown Ambulance.

I would like to acknowledge this substantial contribution, together with the work of the Mid North Health Advisory Council, in ensuring that additional works could be added to the renovations. That is so much the story of country health. It is very much a collaboration between the state government and the community and, to be frank, with the support of the federal government, particularly through funding for GP services.

I congratulate everybody who has advanced this project, in particular Steve Richmond and other members of the Mid North Health Advisory Council and the management and staff of the Jamestown Hospital and Health Service. Mr Ridgway reminds me that in opposition, when I visited Jamestown Hospital, I was shown the site of where they wanted the operating theatre upgrade. True to form, when he had me there to open the operating theatre suite, he showed me the next project, so I can assure the people of Jamestown that their health advisory council is not resting.

One of the privileges of the day was to honour Dr Jack Shepherd, after whom the new theatre suite has been named. Dr Shepherd worked at Jamestown Hospital for 28 years. In his time there he set up the training site, the Jamestown Medical Centre, and was instrumental in the expansion of surgical services that the upgrade will allow to continue at the hospital.

He also reached the rank of Lieutenant Colonel in the Army Reserves, a service in which our President has served. He was deployed to Vietnam, East Timor, Norfolk Island and the Solomon Islands. Dr Shepherd, who I think retired in the early 2000s, was honoured by a resolution of a community meeting that the theatre be named after him. For a medical practitioner to be honoured by a community more than a decade after his retirement from service in that community I think speaks volumes about the regard in which he is held.

Dr Shepherd was present at the opening of the new theatre and gave a firsthand account of his time in the hospital, including his pioneering of CTG foetal monitoring in South Australia. Dr Shepherd also served as one of the founders of the Australian College of Rural and Remote Medicine, one of the most influential medical bodies not only in rural Australia but right through the medical profession.

Dr Shepherd also took the opportunity to remind all those present about the importance of country health facilities and fighting to maintain them. This is a message that I know the honourable member has relayed to this chamber on many occasions through the years and one which I have pursued as shadow and, following the election, as minister. The Marshall Liberal government is committed to supporting the delivery of health services in rural South Australia. The opening of the new Jamestown Hospital theatre was a demonstration of that commitment.