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21 Barclay Street, Heywood, VIC, 3304

Chance to have say on health service’s future

HEYWOOD and district residents are being invited to share their thoughts on how the local health service approaches the next few years.

Heywood Rural health has set out on the first steps towards preparing a strategic plan for the next 3-5 years – that of community consultation.

Chief executive Leigh Parker said the current plan was due to expire this year.

“We’ve just embarked on a journey of developing the next one and in doing that we need to engage with our key stakeholders like neighbouring health services but importantly our staff and members of the community in Heywood and surrounds,” he said.

“It’s those that are already using our services but it’s also important for those who aren’t using our services to know if there are areas of service delivery we should potentially explore and focus on.

“We’re just open for all suggestions. We’re mindful that the environment over the next 3-5 years is going to be challenging from a workforce point of view and that’s currently a factor and a feature of the planning process, as well as the reforms being introduced to aged care by the Royal Commission.”

Melbourne-based consultant Claire Edwards has been appointed by the HRH board to work on the plan.

She said the purpose of the plan was to demonstrate how HRH would ensure it was able to meet the health needs of the community, the approaches that it would develop with key partners to address population health needs and addressing specific performance and policy priorities set by the Victorian and Commonwealth governments.

“A strategic plan is an important formal product of strategic planning, “she said.

“However, strategic planning is a process. The value of a strategic plan is also created by the decision-making it generates, the choices made through the process and the actions coming out of the process.”

The first phase (community engagement) had begun with surveys sent to staff and neighbouring health services, while it was also available for the wider community at (or through the HRH website) and hard copies at Heywood Bakery and the Heywood post office.

Anyone interested can also take part in a phone interview with Ms Edwards by sending their preferred date and time to her at

That part of the process will finish by August 26.

Ms Edwards said the second stage would begin in September, with details still being worked out but it would provide an opportunity for HRH staff and community members to attend workshops, both in person and online, to discuss the findings from phase one as well as other data to “test the direction, key priority areas and actions for inclusion into (the) plan”.

Mr Parker said it was hoped to have the plan endorsed by the HRH board by the end of the year, and then ultimately by the Health Department.