The Federal Government is ploughing much money and effort into propping up jobs and consumer confidence at a time of intense concern about the impact of the economic downturn.

The health networks across Australia, which are funded by the Federal Government to deliver vital primary care services, have no idea of their future at this critical time.

At my organisation, I am in the invidious position of not knowing whether I will have the funds to keep employing my staff after June 30. Most primary health networks around the country are in a similar boat.

For months we’ve been waiting for an answer from the Department of Health and Ageing as to what will happen to our funding in the next financial year.

I was told there would be a decision at the end of January. Then, at the end of February. Here we are, now in mid March, and still I don’t know what to tell my staff when they ask, will I have a job from July?

I gather the delay is because the Government has a number of important health reviews underway and I am optimistic that these will lead to an improved focus on primary care and enhancements for organisations such as ours.

But in the meantime, my employees and I are left to cope with uncertainty and all the consequences likely to flow from that. It is hard enough to recruit and retain health professionals to work in remote areas, without having to contend with these sort of frustrations.

I am particularly concerned about the uncertainty surrounding the future of key positions such as Diabetes Educators, Dietiticians and Chronic Disease Nurses.

We should be putting our efforts into employing more of these key people — we service a vast area, with a large Indigenous population, that has such a high need for these services. Our staff is now so busy doing acute work that they can’t even begin to address the need for preventative services.

It’s time for some government action.