Threatened closure to impact local families

NINE workers, including five trainees have been given their marching orders from the Thubbo Aboriginal Medical Service, igniting fears the AMS is headed towards a total wipe out before the year's end.

The AMS should know on Friday whether a government-appointed funds controller recommends shutting it down.

The Daily Liberal understands staff were offered two weeks' pay in lieu plus any additional holidays accured as severance.

Chief executive officer Cecil See said he was furious over the timing and held grave concerns about the impact its closure would have on a number of local families.

The service is beseiged by growing debt, with an estimated audited deficit of more than $230,000, with $120,000 in unpaid bills.

Mr See said the AMS had relied on its own savings to pull it through the past six months, as a result of its ongoing funding dispute with the Department of Health and Ageing.

"The timing is disgusting, right before Christmas," Mr See told the Daily Liberal yesterday.

"There has been no misappopriation of funds, negligence or fraud of any kind, and yet the decision to close will be looked upon as reflection of both myself as the CEO and the Thubbo AMS board."

The furor has sparked calls from Parkes Federal MP Mark Coulton and Shadow Indigenous Health Minister Andrew Laming for the government to ensure patient care remained uncompromised.

The pair also called for Federal Indigenous Health Minister Warren Snowden to disclose what knowledge he had of the service's funding woes and urged the minister to release the findings of the most recent talks between the AMS and the Office of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health (OATSIH) audit teams.

"The Aboriginal people of Dubbo must be able to access appropriate health services and medical treatment at all times," Mr Coulton said.

"If this is proving difficult for management under the current operating constraints, then this needs to be addressed immediately."

reid.jermyn@ruralpress.com

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