Thursday, 12 January 2023
NORTHERN Tablelands MP Adam Marshall is celebrating a huge victory for the Uralla community today, with news from Federal Health Minister Mark Butler that a decision to refuse Commonwealth rural general practice incentives to the Uralla Medical Centre has been reversed.
Mr Marshall thanked Minister Butler for his speedy intervention, which he said meant the Centre would remain open.
“Everyone will be breathing a huge sigh of relief tonight,” 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,” Mr Marshall said.
“I hope this situation never be repeated, in any community, as it was one of the worst cases of bureaucratic overreach I’d 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.”
The Centre announced over the weekend that it would close permanently later this month, largely due to Medicare recently refusing its application for rural practice incentives, as a result submitting the required paperwork after the due date.
In response, Mr marshall wrote a letter to Minister Butler on Monday, requesting his urgent intervention to overturn the Medicare decision.
“I appreciate the importance of deadlines and accurate paperwork, especially in the medical profession, but with the viability of a critical rural medical practice on the line, a little bit of leniency should be considered and granted in this instance,” Mr Marshall said at the time.
The Uralla Medical Centre has around 3,000 patients currently on its books – more than the total population of Uralla.
“This is an integral service for so many vulnerable and isolated members of the community,” Mr Marshall said.
“We could not afford to see this clinic close and the loss of medical expertise from the community and our region – and now, thankfully, Dr Ricardo and his clinic will remain open.
“Thank you to our Federal MP Barnaby Joyce, Uralla Shire Mayor Robert Bell and every single member of the local community who immediately sprang into action to write and email Minister Butler in support of the Medical Centre.
“This is yet another example of good old fashioned people power winning the day.”