Wagin finally has certainty over the future of its local general practice services after the appointment of a new operator. Katanning-based St Luke’s Family Practice has signed an agreement with the Shire of Wagin to operate the Wagin Medical Centre from early next year after months of uncertainty surrounding the town’s GP practice. The council voted to enter into contract negotiations with St Luke’s at its August ordinary meeting after two tenders were submitted. A new operator was required for the centre after IPN Medical Centres, owned by Sonic Healthcare, told the Shire of Wagin it was withdrawing its services earlier this year. In his report to councillors ahead of the August meeting, Shire chief executive Bill Atkinson said extensive work had been carried out on the arrangements for the changeover of providers. “Given the acute shortage of GPs throughout regional Australia, the level of enquiry about the tender was encouraging,” he said. In a statement announcing the agreement last week, the council said current staff would be retained as part of the transition. Shire president Phil Blight said he was pleased with the outcome. “It is is great for the community to continue to have ongoing medical service provisions in the town,” he said. Mr Blight said he did not doubt the community’s ability to attract another GP service provider, however he expressed disappointment at the need of local governments to step into a health role. “(The community) and I are equally disappointed that the tier of government that should be providing these services — the State Government — does not,” Mr Blight said. IPN and its predecessors have held the contract to provide medical services in the town for more than a decade, and will keep operating in Wagin until St Luke’s takes over the practice in February. “We look forward to a long and fruitful relationship with St Luke’s,” Mr Blight said.