AlburyCity plans withdrawal from immunisation program
AlburyCity has endorsed a proposal to stop providing immunisation services from December this year after an internal review recommended handing responsibility for delivery back to NSW Health.
The Service and Efficiency Review identified that over the past decade, there has been a 54% decline in the number of people attending the Council run clinics, with AlburyCity providing only 17% of early childhood immunisations.
Local General Practitioners are providing 78% of vaccinations and this figure has been steadily increasing with the first baby/parent visits to a doctor aligning with the first immunisation.
The proposal to withdraw from the service is contained in the 2014-15 Draft Budget papers, which Council endorsed for public exhibition at its meeting in April.
Mayor Kevin Mack says there is no legislative requirement for NSW Councils to deliver immunisation programs as it’s the role of NSW Health and Local Health Districts to ensure communities have access to immunisation providers.
“The figures clearly indicate that parents are choosing to immunise their children with their local doctor, which is pleasing as it indicates that there is an adequate supply of accessible local GPs,” he said. “We’ve seen a steady decline in the number of children attending our Council-run immunisation programs. Clearly the preference of parents is to use GP services where there is access to more than just an immunisation service to meet the needs of their children.”
The decision to withdraw from the immunisation program will save Council $124,000 in direct costs per year with little impact on overall immunisation services on offer in the city. Mayor Mack said the move made financial sense in the long term.
AlburyCity has been providing the service for the past 35 years, this arrangement was formalised in a voluntary Memorandum of Understanding in 2006.
Cr Mack said officers have been liaising with Murrumbidgee Local Health District (MLHD) about Council’s intentions to withdraw from both the early childhood and schools based programs, and a transition plan is being developed to facilitate the handing back of service delivery. Council will continue to offer its community centres to MLHD as a venue for immunisation clinics at no cost.