40 jobs go as Wide Bay Medicare local closes

FORTY people have been made redundant as Wide Bay Medicare Local closes and is today replaced by Primary Health Network (PHN) Country to Coast.

Bundaberg's office is located on the corner of Barolin and McConville Sts and while PHN was launched today, the office was still signed inside as Wide Bay Medicare Local although the website was removed.

The move follows the Federal Government's 2014 budget announcement to close Medicare Local services nationwide and replace it with new organisation, PHN which went live yesterday.

Wide Bay Medicare Local board chairman Dr Paul Neeskens said in the 14 months that followed the announcement, 61 Medicare Locals across the country have been winding up their business and transitioning into the new PHN organisation and its 31 offices.

Mr Neeskens said there would still be another three month wind down before the defunct service was completely gone.

Medicare Local was established in 2012 and sought to improve primary health care to ensure services were better tailer to meet the needs of the Bundaberg community.

The service funded the upgrades to Boreham Park and the construction of Schuhkraft Park at Bargara.

The new PHN will not act as a service provider rather contract service providers for the same work as Wide Bay Medicare Local.

Mr Neeskens said a total of 40 staff was made redundant through the closure of Wide Bay Medicare Local but 10 were re-employed with PHN after submitting an expression of interest.

The new PHN head office will be based in the Sunshine Coast and cover the Wide Bay, North Burnett, Rockhampton and Capricornia.

The NewsMail sought comment from PHN CEO Pattie Hudson who was unable to respond by the newspapers deadline.

In a press release issued by PHN, Ms Hudson said services provided by Wide Bay Medical Local including mental health, allied health; Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island health and other primary health care service would be able to "continue without disruption".

Ms Hudson confirmed PHN would retain its office in Bundaberg and said its first task "will involve listening closely to the people of Wide Bay".

"... to ascertain what they need from the PHN," Ms Hudson said.

PHN Country to Coast chair Dr Peter Dobson said the board will hold meetings in the Wide Bay over the coming months.

"... providing an opportunity for local residents to speak personally with the Directors about issue of concern from their region," Mr Dobson said.



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