Establishment of the promised Walk-in Health Centre in Coombs is now on the backburner after the decision of the National Health Co-operative (NHC) to go into voluntary administration.
The Walk-in Health Centre – with a focus on maternal, child and family health services – was to be co-located at the NHC health hub and open in July but Health Minister Rachel Stephen-Smith says NHC’s recent financial troubles meant the ACT Government could not enter into the planned sublease and undertake the required fit-out of the facility.
She says the Government remains committed to the centre, as promised in last year’s election campaign.
“ACT Government officials have already held initial discussions with the administrator to explore what options are available to enable us to establish the new centre as quickly as possible,” Ms Stephen-Smith said.
“Ongoing work with the administrator and the landlord will help the Government to understand the proposed continuation of services in Coombs and the availability of space in the current building.
“We will continue to update the Molonglo community and other stakeholders over the coming weeks as this work continues.”
She said the Coombs partnership presented an opportunity to deliver better integration of care with general practice.
Molonglo Valley Community Forum member Monique Brouwer said the delay was another blow to the Coombs community which is still waiting on its shops and an activated community centre.
“It’s a disappointment for the community of Coombs. We’re keen to work with NHC and government in whatever way we can to support a healthcare hub within Coombs,” she said.
She said the potential folding of NHC put at risk a range of health services, including the chemist that served not just Coombs but the whole Molonglo Valley.
It would also put pressure on services in nearby Weston Creek and Woden.
The area had many older residents and families and needed a GP centre nearby, she said.
Ms Brouwer questioned why the Government appeared to be following a private-sector model for community services in Coombs rather than establishing its own health and community centres.
Administrators for NHC are confident the embattled health service can continue trading for at least three months, given the cash flow and that its issues can be resolved.
They cited the end of JobKeeper and “recent staff changes” as contributing factors to its financial woes.
The not-for-profit enterprise has eight locations across the ACT employing around 90 medical and administrative staff.