Victorian Health Minister Jill Hennessy tells North East MP that Rutherglen hospital needs to wait on funding bid for badly needed kitchen upgrade

Cramped: The kitchen pantry at Rutherglen hospital which is uncomfortably small with the electricity cord supplying fridges draped along the wall.
Cramped: The kitchen pantry at Rutherglen hospital which is uncomfortably small with the electricity cord supplying fridges draped along the wall.

VICTORIA’S Health Minister won’t offer immediate help to fix a North East hospital kitchen in danger of being shut over safety flaws.

Jill Hennessy has replied to an urgent plea for $250,000 to repair the kitchen at Indigo North Health without acknowledging an audit which could close it.

Member for Benambra Bill Tilley had sought the money and highlighted the need in questions to Ms Hennessy in parliament in June.

“Unless improvements are made before the next food safety audit in October this year the kitchen will be closed down,” Mr Tilley said.

But Ms Hennessy’s response offers no hope of ministerial intervention to fix the Rutherglen kitchen.

She refers to a meeting between Department of Health and Human Services and Indigo North Health in June. 

“Indigo North Health was advised on the level of detail required to inform the next round of funding decisions,” Ms Hennessy stated.

“Indigo North Health is welcome to submit a fully costed kitchen proposal to round two of the Regional Health Infrastructure Fund for consideration.”

Indigo North Health chief executive Shane Kirk, who oversees the kitchen which produces 55,000 meals a year, said Ms Hennessy’s reply was “disappointing”.

“Indigo North Health is working to ensure our next application for the Regional Health Infrastructure Fund is submitted, providing as much detail as possible,” Mr Kirk said.

“Indigo North Health remains very concerned that the Food Safety Audit due in October 2017, will not be favourable and will continue to have conversations with the Victorian Department of Health in order to minimise the potential impact of this audit.”

Hazard: Raised lino is among a range of problems which may lead to the kitchen shutting down.

Hazard: Raised lino is among a range of problems which may lead to the kitchen shutting down.

Mr Tilley slammed Ms Hennessy’s response as inadequate.

“The minister and the health department have missed the point, again,” Mr Tilley said.

“We have been asking for an urgent review of this issue for almost 12 months and what we get is ‘put in another bid’.

“By the time they make a decision on this next funding round, sometime in 2018, the safety audit will be well and truly over and kitchen could have been closed for months.

“Indigo North Health needs the money before the end of next month, not next year.”

Lack of room for staff and gear and poor flooring are among the safety concerns.

Indigo North Health needs the money before the end of next month, not next year.

Bill Tilley