Emerald residents and community health advocates attended the sod turning ceremony at the superclinic site last year.
Emerald residents and community health advocates attended the sod turning ceremony at the superclinic site last year. Meghan Kidd

Construction to start soon on Emerald's superclinic

WE HAVE the site, we have the funding and now all we need is a few walls and roof.

With the $5 million funding for the Central Highlands Health Clinic secure, board chairman councillor Paul Bell said board members were now breathing easier.

"Minister for Health Peter Dutton had, some weeks ago, withdrawn the funding for three clinics in Australia and that created some concern," Cr Bell said.

"But last week we received a letter from the minister saying the funding is secure.

Cr Bell described it as "a big step forward" for the project.

"There was some uncertainly as to whether the superclinic would receive the support we previously had," he said.

"Mr Dutton believes the training aspects of what we are providing in the business plan and business model in Emerald is a big plus and something new for the region.

"Clearly, proposals we put forward are different to many different superclinics proposed in the past - the health clinic is something that is worth funding and worth supporting.

"It has been a bit of a long wait to get that resolution, and the budget last week enabled the minister to really move forward in giving the assurance about the funding of $5m to the clinic in Emerald."

The letter from Mr Dutton, sent to Mr O'Dowd on May 7, said a key priority was to "ensure that funding is being spent as effectively as possible to support frontline services".

"I have instructed my department to continue to work with the funding recipient for the Emerald GP Superclinic to ensure that additional services are provided to the Emerald community as soon as possible," Mr Dutton wrote.

"The government has emphasised its commitment to rebuilding primary care, including investments to expand general practices for teaching and supervision, and to double the practice incentive payment for teaching and supervision."

Cr Bell said it would not be long now until construction started and the superclinic came to fruition.

"Hopefully the new health clinic will be operational by early 2015," he said.


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