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2TM Regional News

Uralla Medical Centre stays open

The Federal Government has listened to pleas to intervene and save the Uralla Medical Centre from indefinite closure.


The Centre was set to close permanently later this month, largely due to Medicare recently refusing its application for rural practice incentives following an apparent mix up with paperwork and potential financial implications which could make the centre unviable.


The Uralla Medical Centre services 3000 patients - more than the population of Uralla.


In response, Member for New England Barnaby Joyce and Member for Northern Tablelands Adam Marshall wrote urgent letters to the Minister for Health, Mark Butler on Monday 9 January, requesting his urgent intervention to overturn the Medicare decision.


A spokesperson for the Minister of Health said as soon as the situation in Uralla was brought to the Minister’s attention, the Minister’s Office instructed the Department of Health to work with Services Australia to review the situation.


“All accreditation issues are now resolved and the decision to withhold payments has been overturned and payments will be made to Uralla Medical Centre,” the spokesperson said.


Mr Marshall thanked Minister Butler for his speedy intervention and hopes the situation is never repeated.


“Everyone will be breathing a huge sigh of relief,” Mr Marshall said.

“This is really positive news and I know the community will be deeply appreciative of the Minister Butler’s quick response to achieve this common-sense outcome for Uralla, Dr Ricardo Alkhouri and his clinic.

“I hope this situation is never repeated in any community, as it was one of the worst cases of bureaucratic overreach I’ve ever seen.

“Thankfully, it’s now been resolved, and I trust Medicare has learnt a lesson about the critical nature of rural general practice and how much we value it here in country areas.”

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