40 jobs lost at Medicare Local Care now contracted out

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

The jobs will be lost from Hervey Bay and Bundaberg, and the affected roles include administration, human resources and finance workers.

About 12 affected workers have been offered positions in the Sunshine Coast office of the new health system; Primary Health Networks (PHNs).

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 Paul Neeskens said in the 14 months that followed the announcement, 61 Medicare Locals across the country had been winding up their business and transitioning into the PHN organisation and its 31 offices.

Dr 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 tailored to meet the needs of the Bundaberg community.

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

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

Dr 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.

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

In a press release issued by PHN, chief executive officer Pattie 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 could "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".

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

All 40 Wide Bay Medicare Local staff were given a chance to submit expressions of interest for the new PHNs jobs

Between 10 and 15 people applied for the new positions.