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Healthy outlook

Monday, 21st February, 2011

IMPROVING PROGNOSIS: The new local health boss, Stuart Riley, said health services were looking good. IMPROVING PROGNOSIS: The new local health boss, Stuart Riley, said health services were looking good.

By John Casey

The prognosis for health services in Broken Hill is improving, according to the Chief Executive of the recently-formed Far West Local Health Network.

Just seven weeks into his tenure, Stuart Riley said he was "a lot more comfortable" with the outlook for health services in the city than when he made his initial observations.

"I'm pleased to say we are making good progress as we transition from the former organisation (Greater Western Area Health Service) but there is still much more to be done," Mr Riley said.

"Resources are finite to the community and we need to be as efficient and creative as we can in terms of how we do things."

Mr Riley said it was too early to comment on the health reforms announced last week by Prime Minister Julia Gillard and his position was understandable with the Federal Opposition indicating it would not support the proposed changes.

"When health reforms are being implemented each component will be refined and we will need to wait for a clearer picture before we know what effect they will have for consumers and our staff," Mr Riley said.

"But our capacity to respond to any changes is now improved because under the new Local Health Networks we have easier and more direct contact with the department."

Likewise, the looming NSW state election result was not a concern for Mr Riley because if - as is widely predicted - the Coalition wins office, any resultant changes may be forced upon them.

The enormity of the task confronting Mr Riley is underscored by the fact that in the past three months, 118 different doctors had passed through thehospital doors.

There are also 170 nurses employed, with around 10 vacancies to be filled. 

"For us though it is more about how we manage the business, rather than staffing issues and we get great support from the clinical fraternity," Mr Riley said.

This week's first monthly meeting of the Far West Local Health Network's Governing Council was also an important step in establishing strategies for the future, according to Mr Riley.

"It was acknowledged that we are a multi-site organisation (stretching from Tibooburra in the north to Balranald near the Victorian border) and it was agreed that we should meet twice a year in those environments outside of Broken Hill," he said.

Mr Riley was also full of praise for the support the local hospital received from the Broken Hill community. 

"We receive tremendous support from community groups in assisting us with equipment acquisitions and we look forward to that continuing," he said.

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