22 October 2021

ACT Government strikes deal for go-ahead of Coombs public health centre

| Ian Bushnell
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National Health Co-op building in Coombs

The former National Health Co-op site in Coombs will be known as Molonglo Valley Medical Centre. Photo: File.

A proposed public walk-in health centre in Coombs will go ahead in the new year despite uncertainty caused by the demise of the National Health Co-op.

The ACT Government announced it has reached a deal with new owner Palm Healthcare to lease space for the centre at the former National Health Co-op general practice in Coombs, which will be known as Molonglo Valley Medical Centre.

National Health Co-op was slated to co-locate the centre at its Coombs site before the co-operative went into voluntary administration in June 2021. Administrators announced in September 2021 that Palm Healthcare would be taking over the Coombs practice as part of the restructuring of National Health Co-op’s five clinics into privately owned GP practices.

ACT Minister for Health Rachel Stephen-Smith said the new centre would deliver on an election commitment to co-locate with an existing general practice to provide an integrated and coordinated health service in the Molonglo Valley.

“This is good news for the growing region and we look forward to getting these services up and running early next year,” she said.

“We expect the new centre will primarily offer appointment-based services that complement the existing network of walk-in centres and community health centres, in line with our election commitment to deliver a mix of immediate and appointment-based care.

“We will work with Palm Healthcare, other local healthcare providers, and the community to finalise the services to be offered through this innovative partnership.”

The ACT Health Directorate and Canberra Health Services are finalising plans for leasing options and transition of services to the walk-in centre.

The proposal has also been dogged with confusion about whether it is truly a walk-in centre because the model appears to be a hybrid one, with mainly appointment-based services.

Molonglo Valley Community Forum representative Ryan Hemsley welcomed the news, but said there is still concern about the status of the new public centre.

“We are concerned the centre described does not appear to be the traditional walk-in centre model of care, as appointments will still be required,” he said.

“The community and the forum are keen to work with ACT Health and Palm Healthcare in delivering a centre which meets the needs of our growing community.”

Mr Hemsley said residents of the Molonglo Valley need accessible and affordable healthcare, and have been left waiting since the news earlier this year that the centre would not be opening in July 2021 as originally planned.

Ms Stephen-Smith said the government would also be re-engaging with the community on the co-design of new Canberra walk-in health centres in South Tuggeranong, the Inner South, West Belconnen and North Gungahlin.

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