Stuart shares vision for future of our hospitals | Editorial

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AFTER five years at the helm of Albury Wodonga Health, Stuart Spring is sure of many things, but for one.

He is non-committal about whether he has done “a good job”.

One thing he is absolutely certain of is that what’s been achieved in making Albury Wodonga Health a genuine major regional health service has been “quite remarkable”.

Five years ago, it was the great unknown — that was in fact part of what attracted Dr Spring to the role as its first chief.

Dr Spring has described Albury- Wodonga’s health revolution as a bit like a never-ending house renovation.

It will never be finished.

But already, there have been some extraordinary wins, with the $60 million cancer centre topping the list.

A total spend of $90 million also includes a cardiac centre, $10 million in new equipment and a new emergency unit at Wodonga hospital.

It would point to “a good job” by the organisation’s inaugural chief.

Dr Spring has paid tribute to the huge role the community played in helping secure the funding for the cancer centre, describing it as “absolutely vital”.

Despite our difficulties in dealing with a river between our cities, and all the difficulties raised by a state divide, that effort must surely be one of the great examples of this community’s strength when it works as one.

And it would not have happened without the birth of Albury Wodonga Health.

Neither Albury or Wodonga could have done it on their own.

And so with public health on the Border having worked its way onto the radar of state and federal governments, staying on there is the challenge, as is working out how to do more, with less.

Funding has grown, but demand has grown faster and will continue to do so.

It has and always will be a battle to get a fair slice of the pie.

Dr Spring has noted the limited long-term future of Wodonga’s hospital, with a total rebuild on the cards in the next 10 to 15 years.

He believes the days of the service having two campuses are numbered and the approach is not the final solution.

That is not a position everyone would share, but Dr Spring says he believes it is a view shared by government.

He says there are duplications that can only be avoided by a single site, and it is obvious which site that would be.

Wodonga hospital’s location and the fact that some of it is now more than 65 years old puts it at a serious disadvantage.

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