A Liberal state government would spend $7 million upgrading the Murray Bridge hospital's emergency department, Opposition Leader Steven Marshall has announced.
During a visit this morning, Mr Marshall outlined a plan to double the number of resuscitation and treatment bays to four and 14, respectively, if his party won the upcoming state election.
The hospital would also gain two new procedure rooms, two consulting rooms, a relatives' room and a waiting room.
"Over the past 20 years, the population here in Murray Bridge has doubled, yet there has been no upgrade whatsoever to the capability of this hospital," he said.
"There's a massive lack of space, a lack of security, a lack of privacy and very poor working conditions for the doctors who are called upon to perform life-saving emergency care for people in need.
"It's completely and utterly unacceptable."
Doctor Martin Altmann said the announcement would be great for staff morale.
"We ... struggle to maintain our recruitment of doctors because they're just not used to working in such poor physical facilities," he said.
"The quality of care is magnificent, but we do worry that ... we have a large mental health load and sometimes we have patients who are agitated or violent.
"There's no safe room for those patients and we have to call local police up to staff our facilities; that's a great draw-down on those services as well."
He said Murray Bridge's emergency department was a quarter of the size of Berri's even though the two hospitals treated a similar number of patients.
"We've had working parties and plans done to upgrade this facility for many years and we just keep getting knocked back, so we're really excited to hear Steven's announcement today, because it's much overdue."
Mr Marshall credited Member for Hammond Adrian Pederick for his long-term lobbying for the upgrade.
He denied it was intended to keep voters from turning to SA Best, which launched a petition calling for a fully functional and operational emergency department – and a public GP, rather than a contract with Bridge Clinic – in October.
But SA Best leader Nick Xenophon suggested the promise was the result of “hard advocacy” by his party’s candidate, Kelly Gladigau.
“The Liberals … now have a big fight on their hands with Kelly, who is listening to the concerns of the community,” he said.
On January 24, the Labor government promised $140 million worth of upgrades to country hospitals over the next 10 years, but did not specify whether Murray Bridge's would benefit.
In Meningie on Wednesday, Premier Jay Weatherill denied his government had knocked back the hospital’s request for funding.
“Work is progressing on the proposal,” he said.
“When the business case is complete we’ll give it earnest consideration.”