A PROPOSED $70m redevelopment of the Mount Gambier hospital could give people better access to same-day services and result in less people having to travel to Adelaide or Victoria for medical treatment.
The redevelopment, proposed by the Limestone Coast Local Health Network (LHN), at the current hospital site includes a same day surgical unit, outpatient consulting rooms, a tele-health hub and rapid access clinics.
LHN chair Grant King said the aim of the project was to increase services and lower costs for both the health system and the patient.
"Often people need to travel to Adelaide for appointments which don't necessarily require treatment," Mr King said.
"For example, our proposed model of care will allow people to discuss their diagnosis and care plan at the Mount Gambier hospital."
Mr King also said the development could attract more health professionals to the region and increase the scope of services available at the hospital.
He said the LHN has briefed the Department of Health on the proposal which was supportive of the project but funding for the redevelopment has not yet been allocated.
"We hope to have the project moving along over the next 12 to 18 months," he said.
Earlier this year, Mr Bell announced he intended to seek re-election for the seat of Mount Gambier and said the hospital redevelopment was a key policy for the election.
He said he would seek government funding for the $70m upgrade at the Mount Gambier hospital if re-elected in March next year.
"Regional health should be a major priority for both [major] parties," Mr Bell said.
"Over the last eight years, health is a constant issue raised with me by members of our community.
"As the State's second largest city and our distance from Adelaide - it is important that we have a world class health system in Mount Gambier.
"Improving our hospital has many benefits, including better outcomes for our population, care closer to home and an improved experience for all patients." Mr Bell said SA Health data had revealed the Limestone Coast community was one of the biggest users of the Patient Assistance Transport Scheme (PATS), which reimbursed residents for accessing specialist medical care more than 100kms away.
"When you break down the PATS data, it really shows that Limestone Coast residents are travelling far and wide to access medical treatment and services," he said.
"This increase in services [at the hospital] would mean those specialists and services will be based here and local people can access the care they need locally, without the need to travel to Adelaide or Warrnambool." Mr Bell said he was in discussions with several political parties about the additional funding for the hospital.
"It's really about better health outcomes for our community and regional health should be one of the highest priorities for both major parties," he said.
"We're currently in the grip of a major public health crisis which is going to be with us for a long time.
"I think health care is going to be front and centre of the 2022 State Election.
"The State's largest regional centre deserves a medical facility that is fit for purpose for the needs of our community, both now and into the future."