A NOT-for-profit health organisation in Scoresby says its mental health nurses and patients have been offered a lifeline - just one week before the service is forced to close.
The Weekly exclusively reported on June 5 that 26 staff members at Greater Eastern Primary Health would lose their jobs when the new federal government Medicare Local scheme is rolled out on Sunday.
Nurses have since been offered contracts with Eastern Melbourne Medicare Local - which will be run by Eastern Ranges GP Association - and the Burwood-based Inner East Melbourne Medicare Local.
Two weeks ago, GEPH acting chief executive Lisa Paulin told the Weekly that despite assurances that mental health nurses would be offered jobs by ERGPA in the reshuffle, no contracts had been physically sighted. ERGPA denied accusations that it had not tried to employ to the staff.
Chairwoman Barbara Inness said offers had been made but a response was not made within the prescribed time.
Last week, Ms Paulin said eight nurses had since been verbally offered employment with Inner East Melbourne Medicare Local and would be able to stay where they were working - "they're prepared to take on all the nurses and patients and will offer contracts". She said the Department of Health and Ageing had approved the move.
However, ERGPA chief executive Kristin Michaels said discussions with GEPH nurses started two days after the job losses announcement, and new contracts had been offered to the staff to join the outer eastern Medicare Local. "It's my understanding that they verbally accepted these contracts."
She said she was unaware of any offers made to GEPH staff by the inner eastern service.
Ms Paulin confirmed ERGPA had offered verbal contracts but nothing had been sighted in writing. "To my knowledge they still don't have contracts and there is no certainty of employment."
GEPH has 300 mental health patients, and Ms Paulin said several had to be hospitalised when told the news that the health organisation would be closing its doors. "Change with such short notice can have serious effects on these patients."
Ms Paulin said she was impressed that no one had left the organisation since the job losses were confirmed. "It's a sombre but supportive atmosphere here at the moment."