Gunnedah Rural Health Centre remains closed as HNEH conducts due diligence on preferred party

LOCALS are turning to surrounding towns for medical appointments as the Gunnedah Rural Health Centre remains closed.

The clinic has been without a doctor since July 12 – just five days after the Gunnedah Rural Health Centre board appointed Alan Hayes, of Hayes Advisory, as voluntary administrator.

Last month, Mr Hayes revealed he had found a “medically and financially capable” party to purchase the right to run a medical and allied health practice from the building.

But a decision on the future of the clinic remains up in the air, as Hunter New England Health (HNEH) yesterday confirmed it was still working through due diligence with the preferred party. 

Mullaley’s Geraldine McKay, whose sick and elderly husband waited two weeks for a doctor’s appointment, fears the closure of the clinic is adding pressure to the existing medical facilities in Gunnedah.

“It makes you really realise what a valuable and important thing it is to the Gunnedah medical landscape,” Mrs McKay said.

“I’m worried about our medical people who are here, and I’m also worried about my husband, who’s elderly.

“We’re a first-world country, not a third-world country.

“We’ve had to head to Coonabarabran, others are going to Boggabri.

“It’s putting people under stress and extra costs.”

Mrs McKay praised the committee who worked to develop the Gunnedah Rural Health Centre in 2012.

“I have the greatest respect for the great people who worked to hard to get that centre up and running,” she said.

“The powers that be just couldn’t guess the impact on the ground of not having it.

“We’re a growing community in rural NSW. These things – not having healthcare – hold communities back.”

HNEH told the NVI on August 30 that they had met with the preferred party, were conducting due diligence, and were “working through this as quickly as we can”.

But nearly one month on, a HNEH spokesman yesterday confirmed there was still no update. 

Parkes MP Mark Coulton said he was following the process closely, and was of the understanding arrangements for a lease were being organised.

Mr Coulton said he was aware of community concern, but taking a considered approach will provide the community with the best outcome.

“We have to get this right, we don’t want a situation where the centre is closed down again,” he said.