Call to keep Medicare Local CEO Mark Foster

By , 10/08/2019 12:21

Dr Mark FosterHUNTER Medicare Local staff and members are calling on the board to reinstate outgoing chief executive officer Dr Mark Foster whose contract is not being renewed.
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It is understood that 250 staff and members have signed a petition asking for the return of Dr Foster, who has been CEO for six years.

His contract was due to expire on June 30 and the board’s decision not to renew it, made public on June 5, was said to come as a ‘‘big surprise’’ to many, and raised the ire of staff and members.

A formal request from representatives of staff and members to address the board at today’s monthly meeting about the decision, and what they describe as a lack of confidence in chair Karen Howard has been refused.

Ms Howard confirmed on Tuesdaythat the board had received feedback from some members about Dr Foster’s departure and the response would be discussed at today’s meeting.

“The board appreciates that the departure of a CEO, particularly someone of Mark’s stature, is an extremely sensitive and emotive issue,’’ Ms Howard said.

‘‘Ultimately any decisions must be taken within the context of what is in the best interests of the whole organisation and the decision was unanimous.’’

A doctor and long-time member of Hunter Medicare Local, who did not wish to be named, said there were concerns the organisation was being taken in a more ‘‘commercially driven’’ direction.

‘‘Members are upset about the loss of leadership and they are questioning the board’s decision,’’ he said.

‘‘It’s been very successful and a big part of it has been having very strong leadership, particularly clinical leadership … so there’s a concern that the change in direction will effect the future of some very successful programs, such as the after hours clinical services.’’

News of the division coincided with yesterday’s launch of a federal government website (www.medicarelocals.gov.au) providing information about Medicare Locals nationally, which espouses the successes of the Hunter Medicare Local as ‘‘ground breaking’’.

Ms Howard said that work would continue with the help of an increase in federal government funding for many programs through to June 30, 2016.

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