Politics Sector News — 17 October 2014

JOBS will go and the Hume Medicare Local office will face closure as part of a shake-up that will see primary health networks extended hundreds of kilometres.

The federal government announced the new plan on Wednesday, which is set to axe 31 of the 60 Medicare Local offices across the country.

At present, the Hume office caters for 200,000 people across the Border, but as of June 30 next year a single Murray office in Victoria will manage a population of 600,000 along the Murray River right up to the South Australian border.

The announcement was supposed to be made in July this year.SONY DSC

Upon hearing the news the Hume Medicare Local chief executive David Dart said he had discussions with the Lower Murray and Loddon Mallee Murray boards to determine how they would manage the changes.

“Fortunately they share the same philosophies we do in that we will continue to deliver services for now and make sure that when this new entity is established it knows that it has a responsibility to our communities,” Mr Dart said.

The Albury Hospital currently falls under Victorian state governance, however will be part of the western NSW zone of the new primary health network.

Mr Dart said excluding Albury from the Murray zone would undo years of work on cross Border health.

“It doesn’t marry nicely to have an acute service and a mental health service recognised in Victoria as a Victorian system and then have a primary health system that doesn’t reflect that — it’s not logical,” he said.

Hume Medicare Local employs more than 50 people and had received $10 million in funding each year since it began in 2012.

Albury Wodonga Health chief executive Susan O’Neill said the organisation would be lobbying the government to have Albury added to the organisation covering the Victorian side of the Border.

This article first appeared on ‘Border Mail’ on 17 October 2014.

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