Health network Medicare Local Grampians to close in July

FILE PIC: Heather Pearce and Alex Rose (from the Youth Reference Group at Headspace Ballarat.

FILE PIC: Heather Pearce and Alex Rose (from the Youth Reference Group at Headspace Ballarat.

MEDICARE Local Grampians will close next July after its funding was cut in Tuesday night’s federal budget.

However, youth service Headspace Ballarat – which Medicare Local Grampians manages – will not be affected as a new lead organisation will be appointed instead.

Medicare Local Grampians chief executive officer Andrew McPherson said the local will be one of 60 across Australia replaced with a primary health network, of which there will be about 20 nationally and two or three in Victoria.

“We are unclear about how they (the primary health networks) will be formed and how they will deliver services,” Mr McPherson said.

“We are lacking details about the process.”

But he said it was possible Medicare Local Grampians could tender to become one of the new networks.

He said Headspace had received a funding boost in the budget.

“There’s no reason to think Headspace Ballarat won’t continue to grow.”

Ballarat MP Catheirne King said the axed funding for Medicare Locals put 38 frontline health workers’ jobs at risk.

“In our community these cuts will affect important frontline health services delivered by the Grampians Medicare Local, including after hours GP services, eHealth, allied health, mental health, immunisation and diabetes education,” Ms King said.

“The Liberals ... are determined to destroy our universal healthcare system with their new $7 GP tax, increased costs for medicines and massive cuts to funding for local hospitals and health services.”

The organisation runs Close the Gap services for indigenous people, promotes telehealth videoconferencing, provides clinical mental health services and has carried out a comprehensive Community Needs Analysis to identify local service gaps. 

Based out of Ballarat, Horsham and Stawell, the service employs 65 staff.

Mr McPherson said many employees were anxious about their futures.

“It’s hard to say when we’re going to know more, but the sooner the better.”

fiona.henderson@fairfaxmedia.com.au

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