Editorial | Decision needed on Gunnedah Rural Health Centre re-opening

RESIDENTS, rightfully, have had enough. For months, they’ve been forced to sit back and wait on a decision that will determine if and when the Gunnedah Rural Health Centre will re-open its doors.

It follows the $6.2 million clinic, which was built in 2012 under funding from the state and federal governments and mining companies, entering voluntary administration in July.

The administrator-turned-liquidator has since worked tirelessly to secure a buyer to run a medical and allied health practice from the building. 

He put forward a proposal to the state and federal governments with his preferred party, which would see creditors be repaid 100 cents to the dollar. But that outcome could be in jeopardy as the government bodies are still yet to make a decision.

So what’s the hold up? Hunter New England Health (HNEH) told us last week there was no further updates to what they gave us back in August, which basically said they were working through due diligence of the provider and agreement. 

But the lengthy delay is causing understandable frustrations for patients, creditors, the liquidator and the buyer. 

Last week, we revealed Gunnedah residents were having to travel as far as Coonabarabran, Boggabri and Tamworth for medical appointments because Gunnedah doctors were experiencing greater workloads due to the doctor shortfall. 

It’s not good enough when an ill elderly resident faced a two-week wait to see a doctor in Gunnedah, instead opting to travel to Coonabarabran. 

Not only is the clinic’s extended closure hurting local patients, but it could also deter doctors from wanting to live and work in Gunnedah.

The potential buyer has reportedly elicited approaches for seven doctors ready to commence work at the GRHC. If they don’t get an answer soon, they could well look for other options elsewhere.

It’s time a decision is made.

We appreciate the governments taking the time to work through due diligence to get the right outcome. But the longer that takes, the more frustrated people will become. And it could also reduce the return to creditors.

Let’s hope the governments can work through the processes quickly to get a response for our community.

At the end of the day, access to healthcare should never be undermined.