A CLOUD hangs over the future of Bathurst’s Panorama Clinic following persistent rumours its operations are to be scaled back.
The specialist mental health unit within the grounds of Bathurst Health Service has been the subject of swirling rumours over the past few weeks, with speculation it could be converted to either a day unit or weekdays-only unit.
The Western Advocate has also been told there are plans to transport clients to Bloomfield Hospital each weekend, sparking concerns about the disruption to their recovery.
There are also concerns Bathurst staff might be asked to work from Bloomfield on weekends or risk losing penalty rates.
However, Western NSW Local Health District has rejected the speculation.
Twice, health bureaucrats have told the Western Advocate there were no changes planned.
In response to direct questioning, mental and health, drug and alcohol services director Dr Russell Roberts said “there are no plans to make the Panorama Clinic a day-only facility”.
While he did not comment directly on suggestions the clinic would close at weekends, he said it had a bright future.
“The future for Panorama Clinic and the future of mental health services at Bathurst is very positive now and into the future,” he said.
“There are currently meetings being held in relation to preparedness for the introduction of activity-based funding which is the new model of funding for NSW Health and Mental Health services.
“Under activity-based funding, services are funded according to activity.”
Dr Roberts confirmed two new mental health services had opened at Bloomfield Hospital.
“Yes, two new statewide services have opened at the Orange Health Service,” he said. “The statewide Open Care Rehabilit-ation Unit and statewide Medium Secure Rehabilitation Unit are available for all residents in NSW, including Bathurst residents.”
The NSW Midwives and Nurses Association is also concerned about speculation over the future of Panorama Clinic, and western region organiser Darius Altman held discussions with Bloomfield management yesterday.
He said he wanted “something in writing” from Bloomfield to get a better idea of plans for regional mental health services.
“Under the award, they need to consult with us if they are planning to make a change that affects a group of nurses,” Mr Altman said.
“I am waiting for further information with regards to what is happening because at the moment the picture is very unclear.”
Mayor Monica Morse yesterday said the Panorama Clinic was a very good unit, but she had not been told of any plans to change its operating hours.