CENTRAL West residents will no longer have access to a HCF store with shopfronts in the region shutting down and staff facing an uncertain future.
The Dubbo and Orange stores will close down within weeks, and a spokesman for the health fund giant admits the coronavirus pandemic has had an impact.
"HCF has made the difficult decision to close its branches in Orange and Dubbo effective July 23," a HCF spokesman said.
"Regrettably, the closure of these branches will impact a small number of employees."
Australian Community Media understands two staff are employed at the Dubbo branch, but HCF would not provide details on how many staff overall would be impacted.
The spokesman said the closures were not related to COVID-19, but admitted the lockdowns highlighted that staff could service customers in other ways.
This decision has not been made lightly but reflects a number of factors including the size of the catchment areas, potential for new growth and increasing trends in online and digital support for our members.HCF spokesman
"That experience has demonstrated how we can actively support members through online and digital channels as well as via call centre support," he said.
"This decision has not been made lightly but reflects a number of factors including the size of the catchment areas, potential for new growth and increasing trends in online and digital support for our members.
"Our research shows that new member origination through our call centre and digital channels demonstrates significant growth in each area.
"This highlights an evolving channel of choice trend towards these types of distribution."
The spokesman said HCF would support impacted employees through the transition and would offer them redeployment opportunities until the end of the year.
"We thank the employees at HCF who have served their communities with dedication over so many years and we are supporting them throughout this process," he said.
The spokesman said the closures would not impact the quality of service provided to members.
"We will continue to review our operations to ensure sustainable success and ensure our members are not paying additional costs for unneeded services," he said.
"As Australia's largest not for profit health insurer we remain committed to ensuring we can continue to deliver affordable, understandable, high quality and customer centric healthcare to our members."
These closures come following the closure of Bathurst's HCF store in July 2016.
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