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Amalgamation plan continues

Rochester and Elmore District Health Service is pushing ahead with its plan to take over Dingee Bush Nursing Centre.

ELAINE COONEY November 20, 2012 4:01am

Rochester and Elmore District Health Service will push ahead with plans to take over Dingee Bush Nursing Centre, despite a community resolution to suspend the amalgamation.

Health service officials met with residents last month to outline plans to assume control of the centre, pending a due diligence process, to ease financial and staffing pressures.

Many Dingee residents learned of REDHS’ plan for the first time at the meeting.

Residents met with REDHS officials on November 6 to air their concerns. The community agreed on a motion to ‘‘suspend the amalgamation with REDHS until a full investigation and consultation with the community could take place.’’

Dingee Bush Nursing Centre chairman John Twigg said the board did not agree and it was not an official motion.

Member for Swan Hill Peter Walsh received a petition from 165 residents against the takeover.

Mr Twigg said concerns about finance and demands on staff were at the centre of the merger.

Mr Twigg said $308,000 was set aside for the bush nurses entitlements and the extra $42,000 was for the annual running costs of the centre.

The centre also received an annual $350,000 grant from the Department of Human Services which would continue if REDHS took over the centre, he said.

If the takeover occurred, the bulk of the centre’s savings would be used to pay out the bush nurse, even if she was re-employed by REDHS, he said.

Mr Twigg said the bush nurse addressed the board on several occasions to say she did not have the expertise to deal with the increasing paperwork.

REDHS chief executive Matt Sharp said he, along with the firm which carries out the due diligence process, offered to meet residents at Dingee to discuss the preliminary finding outlined in the report.

‘‘The reason why I offered to hold this meeting was to provide a way forward as it is clear to me that ongoing discussions between the Dingee Bush Nursing Centre Board and the Concerned Citizens Group are difficult at this time,’’ he said.

Mr Sharp said the situation needed progress because of the impact it was having on the community.

‘‘This process is having, in particular, an effect on relationships among people that have been friends for many years in some cases,’’ he said.

Further delays in addressing issues arising from the due diligence placed the nursing centre at even greater risk of being sustainable in the future, he said.

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