STATE Shadow Health Minister Rob Lucas visited the SE last week, including a stop at Naracoorte Hospital.
Mr Lucas, who was installed as Shadow Health Minister after his party's reshuffle in the wake of Isobel Redmond stepping down and Steven Marshall taking over, was given a tour of the facility and came out of it happy with what he saw.
"As a new shadow minister I was really impressed," he told the Herald.
"I'm no expert in health administration but certainly, as Pam (Schubert, Naracoorte Hospital's executive officer/director of nursing) has outlined to me, it is very impressive."
He applauded the town for helping out the hospital whenever possible.
"The great thing about regional health services is the great community support hospitals have," Mr Lucas said.
"Pam has outlined to me various examples where local bequests or donations have provided hi-tech equipment to the hospital and improve the services.
"I think whatever happens country hospitals cannot afford to lose that sort of country community spirit."
But the shadow minister did admit there would be challenges for regional hospitals in the near future.
"I think the challenge is going to be that we're going to have what I call a fiscal vacuum cleaner in the city called the Royal Adelaide Hospital," Mr Lucas warned.
"From 2015-16 it's going to be sucking almost every health dollar out of the system - we're going to be paying $400 million a year for the next 30-35 years for that hospital.
"It's going to place pressure on other metropolitan hospitals and rural and regional hospitals - that is the dilemma."
Mr Lucas said with State elections coming up in March, 2014, the new hospital and managing health funding would be a difficult task for any government.
"The contract has been written and you can't get out of it," he said.
"It comes back to you have to manage the economy and manage the budget better."
It is no surprise Mr Lucas doesn't believe the government is doing its job well enough.
"You obviously expect somebody from the opposition to have that view, and I do have that view," he said, mentioning "waste" in the system by the Labor government.
"They (the government) spent $1.7 million in health on fixing an IT problem just over 12 months ago - they had teams of consultants in there going through every particular budget line to try and sort the problems out," Mr Lucas said.
"There are so many wastes in the system we are going to have to cut back on in order to protect the important services in rural and regional communities."
While in the town he met with Bill Murray and other people involved with medical services in Penola after Dr Francois Pretorius resigned, citing an unmanageable workload.