Concerns that some allied health services will be lost

The Cobar Health Council is concerned that Cobar will lose some important allied health services following recent notification from the NSW Outback Division of General Practice (ODGP) that some services will no longer be funded.

Stephen Dutton, the chairman of the Cobar Health Council, said the ODGP had written to patients and stakeholders advising they would be “decommissioning services” such as  Speech Therapy and Occupational Therapy.

“It looks like Cobar has lost out significantly,” Mr Dutton told The Cobar Weekly.

He said patients who need these services will be forced to travel out of town to access them or they would need to access a private provider and pay for their services.

ODGP’s general manager Tanya Jackson explained the letter to clients and stakeholders was to let them know the services would be decommissioned as they are no longer to be funded under the new contract they have with the Western NSW Primary Health Network (WPHN).

Ms Jackson said their new contract with WPHN funds the ‘Prevention and Management of Chronic Disease Program’ which has a focus on Diabetes and Cardiovascular disease.

“The new model is quite exciting and will bring a bit more horsepower to general practice,” Ms Jackson said.

She said while the new program will continue to support existing ODGP Dieticians, Aboriginal Health Workers and Podiatry services (which are all related to helping diabetic and cardiovascular patients) referrals will however need to be based on the new eligible criteria and a GP referral.

“We now have a focus on chronic diseases.

“Under this program speech therapy does not fit under the scope of the new model for care,” Ms Jackson explained.

She said they were however working hard to try and find co-funding options to help retain Speech Therapy and Occupational Therapy services and were talking to schools and FACS (Department of Family & Community Services) about various co-funding options.