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LETTER: Loss of autonomy

SIR, – Thanks to Bill Ower for bringing our attention to the dangerous proposal of a merger between Wimmera Health Care Group and Ballarat Health Services.

Bill correctly points out the loss of autonomy in management with all major decisions being made in Ballarat.

There are likely to be all sorts of promises about extensive consultation with locals and so on, but I have been around the block enough times to know those promises mean nothing. 

Already the so-called consultation process for the merger is set up to exclude people, as Bill also points out.

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If this is to be the start of an extensive amalgamation process in the health sector in western Victoria, what happens to the smaller, but no-less vital, outlying services such as Rural North West Health and West Wimmera Health Services?

Having swallowed WHCG and centralised management in Ballarat, Ballarat Health Services could then vacuum up the smaller services, which would then have an extraordinarily small say in the management of their local health.

To my mind the way forward would be to develop closer links and collaboration between WHCG, Rural Northwest Health, West Wimmera Health Service and so on with a view to a potential amalgamation between these local services should that be necessary – always remembering that local decision making is paramount.

In this way, should there be a push from the Victorian Department of Health for an amalgamation process we would at least have a larger critical mass in western Victoria before any merger with Ballarat Health Services would occur.

By all means encourage more collaboration between Wimmera Health Care Group and Ballarat Health Services. There is no doubt much to be gained by closer co-operation, but we must maintain our autonomy. If the Wimmera Health Care Group board gives up our identity and autonomy, how do we get it back?

Russell McKenzie, Haven


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The entire February 17, 2021 edition of The Weekly Advertiser is available online. READ IT HERE!