Health Minister, Jill Hennessy, has provided a commitment to State Member for Gippsland East, Tim Bull, that there will be a “continuity of primary health services to the remote community and visitors to Mallacoota over the upcoming holiday period”.
The Minister was responding after Mr Bull raised in State Parliament the community’s concerns over the ongoing viability of the current doctor practice and subsequent GP coverage in the town over the upcoming holiday period, when the population swells to more than 5,000.
“The response stated the Primary Healthcare Network (PHN) had given an undertaking to ensure services existed over the holiday period. It was a little short on detail in relation to how this will be guaranteed and there is some ambiguity I need to clarify,” Mr Bull said.
“While I am pleased the Minister has provided a commitment to “ensure the continuity of primary health services”, it was a little confusing that this comment was followed with a statement that negotiations were continuing “to consider a way to support the Mallacoota community over the busy summer months”.
“I do appreciate the Minister’s personal interest in this matter, but will be seeking some clarification on this when Parliament resumes next week,” he said.
In addition, Mr Hennessy advised Mr Bull:
• The Gippsland PHN has supported a business review of the practice which identified a number of issues affecting the viability of the service, including the availability of general practice workforce and the current business model of the practice.
• The PHN and the Department are leading negotiations with the local health services, Mallacoota District Health and Support Services and Orbost Regional Health, to consider a way to support the community over the busy summer months while the PHN responds to the longer-term viability issues.
• The Department will continue to monitor and report the progress of these negotiations.