The ACT Government seems hellbent on using primary healthcare as a vehicle to appease voters.
With no regards for evidence or good economic governance
Fulfilling their election promises they have now announced the building of a $13.5 million new seven days a week Nurse led Walk-in Clinic in Gungahlin – a suburb with probably the highest density of GP clinics anywhere in the ACT.
One would think this is evidence based after a thorough needs assessment and cost analysis. Sadly this does not seem to be the case. The only analysis of the outcome and functioning of the ACT Nurse Led Clinic (that is publicly available) dates back to 2010.
Even though it is old it still has some very revealing information:
- The average cost per service provided was $196 (bear in mind this is ACT Government funded). Compare that with average cost of Medicare funding for a GP visit which is $37.
- Back then there was NO evidence that it decreased the workload on the hospital ED – in fact the Clinic was based next to the ED in 2010 and was shown to increase the workload. In 2017 I suspect this is still the case – It seems to be typical for a patient to be on-referred to an allied health worker or the ED instead of back to their GP.
- The Socio-economic status of attendees were similar to that of the ACT community as a whole i.e above average income working folks who can afford to see a GP
- 21 % of attendees ended up being re-directed to a GP or elsewhere
- The vast majority of attendees arrived during normal business hours – when GP clinics are open and taking appointments
- 30% were repeat attendees – clearly a “wants” and not a “needs” situation
- The most common presentations were for coughs & colds. The issues that does not need anything more than rest and time – as we have been trying to educate the public for years.
Make no mistake – this is all about politics and cynical vote buying. It has nothing to do with care provision and is a shameful waste of limited ACT Health funding.
It is even worse when one looks at the deteriorating services being offered at The Canberra Hospital. When people with cataracts, children with recurring tonsillitis or blokes with prostate problems can no longer be sent into the public system as there is no one to see them. When even the telephone systems no longer work properly and calls are disconnected after a few seconds.
Shame on you Minister Fitzharris.