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Super Clinic looks set

Wednesday, 24th August, 2011

APPLICANTS: Dr Rosalind Menzies (left) and Dr Fumi Komolafe at the Outback Family Practice in Thomas Street which could be the location for BH’s $7m GP Super Clinic. PICTURE: Gavin Schmidt APPLICANTS: Dr Rosalind Menzies (left) and Dr Fumi Komolafe at the Outback Family Practice in Thomas Street which could be the location for BH’s $7m GP Super Clinic. PICTURE: Gavin Schmidt

By John Casey

Broken Hill’s proposed $7m GP Super Clinic is a step closer to reality with federal MP Catherine King confirming that negotiations with the preferred applicant are underway.

The BDT believes that Outback Family Practice is the preferred applicant and the multi-million dollar facility will be built on their land in Thomas Street, but co-owner Dr Rosalind Menzies said yesterday she was “unable to comment” until the application process had been completed.

However, Ms King has confirmed in a letter to BH City Council that “the unsuccessful applicants have been advised that they have not been shortlisted” and Dr Menzies has received no such notification.

The other local applicant, Dr Ramu Nachiappan, did not return telephone calls from the BDT yesterday.

Given that Ms King’s confirmation letter to City Council is dated July 25, the official announcement regarding the successful applicant could be expected in the next few weeks, according to BH City Council General manager Frank Zaknich.

“The indication we have been given is that an announcement is only weeks away and from Council’s point of view we would prefer to hear something as soon as possible,” Mr Zaknich said.

“Once the announcement has been made it will allow the community and the preferred candidate to move forward,” he added.

State MP John Williams joined that chorus, saying the issue was a matter of some urgency.

“It is a federal issue and I am not privy to any recent developments, but I provided written support for both Dr Menzies and Dr Nachiappan and like all parties involved would like to see a speedy resolution,” Mr Williams said.  

Dr Menzies told the BDT that if their application was successful it would change the face of medical services available in BH.

“Our submission was designed to provide all the health services that would meet all the current unmet needs of the community,” Dr Menzies said.

“If successful, our time frame was to open the doors to the new complex toward the end of 2012.”

Last year the Federal Government identified Broken Hill as one of 64 locations within Australia in need of an upgrade to their medical facilities and interested parties needed to apply by December 2010 to be considered.

At the time Dr Menzies and Dr Funmi Komolafe had plans to spend some $3m on their Outback Family Practice in Thomas Street which they subsequently upgraded to meet the GP Super Clinic criteria.

“We said all along that it would be beneficial for Broken Hill to have an existing operator develop the GP Super Clinic because our practice has been built from grass roots up and we understand the needs of this community,” Dr Menzies said yesterday.

“A lot of time and effort has gone into our submission to the Minister for Health and Ageing and like all of Broken Hill we are anxiously awaiting the outcome of the process.”

If chosen as the successful applicant Dr Menzies said most of the present Outback Family Practice buildings would be demolished to make way for a new medical complex opposite the BH Hospital in Thomas Street.

“We believe our location was one of the strengths of our application,” Dr Menzies said.

“We are opposite the hospital’s X-ray and emergency departments and also provide easy access for medical students who are part of our operation.

“The University Department of Rural Health is right behind the hospital and medical student accommodation is also in close proximity,” Dr Menzies continued.

Outback Family Practice employs a staff of around 40 at the moment and Dr Menzies indicated they would be looking to add “perhaps a dozen more” health professionals if granted approval for the Super Clinic.

“Amongst other things we submitted plans to add a radiology service and would develop the full-time physiotherapy component we currently employ,” Dr Menzies said.

“Adding to our existing after hours clinic was also an important part of our application.”

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