Hennessy hibernates: Health minister hasn't visited Swan Hill's hospital

HEALTH Minister Jill Hennessy hasn't visited the Swan Hill hospital once during her four-year term as health minister. 

The Guardian understands Ms Hennessy has not made a trip to the local health service since she was sworn in as Minister for Health on November 29, 2014. 

The minister did not directly respond to questions from The Guardian asking if she had visited the Splatt Street hospital since being appointed the portfolio. 

Minister for Health Jill Hennessy hasn't visited Swan Hill District Health in the four years she has held the critical portfolio.

Minister for Health Jill Hennessy hasn't visited Swan Hill District Health in the four years she has held the critical portfolio.

And no response was provided directly addressing whether Swan Hill District Health (SHDH) could expect to receive a visit from the minister in the near future. 

A spokesperson for Ms Hennessy told The Guardian "only Labor invests in high quality health care that Swan Hill locals depend on". 

"We've worked round the clock to repair the damage caused by the Liberal-Nationals' billion-dollar cuts to health that hit Swan Hill patients hard," the spokesperson said.

It was also added that the health minister met regularly with community groups from all over Victoria and the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) was working with SHDH on master planning for future upgrades, in addition to a new health service plan to identify what had to be done to ensure local patients would continue to receive faster, safer care closer to home. 

The spokesperson said the state government had invested $3.4 million at SHDH as part of its Regional Health Infrastructure Fund, along with a total $40.3 million for its annual operating budget. 

Last week, the state Coalition pledged $44 million to the Swan Hill hospital if elected at the next election, but calls for a similar promise from the state government have so far gone unanswered. 

The Swan Hill Needs a New Hospital campaign chairperson Les McPhee said the committee had send 1500 signed letters to the minster to date, but had received no response beyond initial acknowledgement at the beginning of the campaign. 

"We did get a response from her office quite early on in the piece, but nothing since," Mr McPhee said. 

The committee, Mr McPhee said, intended to keep the pressure on as the state headed towards the polls in November. 

"By all means, we have a photo shoot this Friday at 12 noon at the clock tower and I encourage everyone to come down in their t-shirts for the photo, that will be used for publicity purposes," he said. 

"We will still be knocking on doors with the premier and health minister, hoping to get an election promise from Labor.

"This is their opportunity to show they govern for all of Victoria."

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