THE Western NSW Local Health District (WNSWLHD) has moved to quash fears that mental health services at Bathurst hospital will be privatised, but it has refrained from confirming that current jobs will not be impacted under planned changes.
This is the second time the Panorama Clinic (Bathurst hospital’s mental health service) future has been in question.
It was just three years ago, in 2013, when it was in danger of closing on weekends or being shut down altogether due to cut-backs.
At the time, Mental Health Minister Kevin Humphries issued an emphatic statement to the Western Advocate rejecting the speculation.
“The Panorama Clinic is not closing and will remain open seven days a week,” he said.
This time however, a hospital worker (who asked not be named) came to the Western Advocate with fears that all or part of the voluntary inpatient clinic could be privatised.
They said staff had been advised that a tender had been called for the clinic’s privatisation and staff had real fears that it could lead to job losses.
The worker said, had prompted fears that the hospital itself could also be privatised following Health Minister Jillian Skinner’s announcement in September that the government was considering privatising a number of other NSW hospitals.
But, integrated mental health, drug and alcohol services director Jason Crisp said privatisation of the entire clinic was not on the agenda.
There are no plans to privatise the Panorama Recovery and Rehabilitation Clinic at Bathurst.
“There are no plans to privatise the Panorama Recovery and Rehabilitation Clinic at Bathurst,” he said.
Mr Crisp said what the local health district is planning to do, however, is add services.
“Western NSW Local Health District is looking at options to add additional social and emotional wellbeing services to the clinic to further assist the Bathurst community,” he said.
“To assist the Local Health District achieve this, options to engage a non-government organisation are being investigated. These services will be in addition to all services currently provided at Panorama Clinic.”
When asked directly if any jobs in community health or within the Panorama Clinic would be lost, Mr Crisp did not provide an answer.
Mr Crisp did not address whether the function of the clinic or the number of staff would change under the plan to add services.
“All clinical and operational governance of the clinic will remain with the Western NSW Local Health District,” he said.
A Western NSW Local Health District spokesperson, meanwhile, said there were no plans to privatise Bathurst hospital.