Health success came after ‘much bigger focus’

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A KEY challenge for Albury Wodonga Health will be working out how to keep doing more with less.

The amount of government health funding is growing, but demand is growing even faster.

Former health boss Stuart Spring said the board and management would have to work at keeping near the front of the queue.

“Because the future needs capital,” he said.

“The population’s growing and the health service is going to have to grow with it.”

Dr Spring said the big advantage for Albury Wodonga Health was that government now saw it as “a solution, not a problem”.

“The recent mergers of mental health services on both sides of the border is a good example of where we’ve provided a solution to problems they couldn’t solve,” he said.

“Both Sydney and Melbourne see us as a major regional health service that you would expect to have for a population of 100,000 here and over 200,000 in the local area.

“We are a Bendigo and a Ballarat — you’ve got to go way up the north coast to see a similar size.”

Dr Spring paid tribute to the widespread community support in finally securing funding for the regional cancer centre, now being built at Albury hospital.

That support, he said, was “absolutely vital” in finally getting it across the line.

“But without Albury Wodonga Health having been established you would not have been able to get it up on the back of a 130-bed hospital,” Dr Spring said.

“It required a much bigger focus. The cardiac centre is exactly the same issue — you wouldn’t have plonked a cardiac centre into a 130-bed hospital.”