Sounds bizarre doesn’t it ? But let’s think about it.
Currently we have two Nurse-Led walk in clinics that ACT Government funds with plans for another 11 million Dollars clinic in the near future and another two down the track.
These clinics are staffed by Nurse Practitioners who offer a much more limited range of services than a fully qualified General Practitioner would offer at a cost of nearly $200 per visit to me and you, the ACT taxpayer. Hardly seems like a good investment of our taxes. Especially since there is no Medicare income from the Federal Government generated in the process to offset these costs.
This made me look at my small three doctor clinic.
We opened eleven years ago – with over a million dollars borrowed from the bank that we are still trying to repay. Despite working long hours we are still struggling desperately each month to make ends meet and often the only thing that stops me from locking the doors and walking away from it all is my sense of duty to my patients (and my bank manager).
This is funded by Fee for service payments. For just over half of our patients this would be an out of pocket fee of around $10-40 per consultation and every consult also attracts a Medicare rebate of just less than $40 per visit. An income that makes it very hard for an ethical practitioner to keep his or her head above the water in a financial sense. Not to mention that our doctors have no other income or entitlements outside of these fee for service payments – there is no paid leave, sick leave, long service leave or maternity leave for us.
While discussing this with a colleague he made a revolutionary suggestion – why don’t you suggest to ACT Health that they spend that eleven million dollars on running your GP clinic?
At first this sounded like crazy talk but the more thought I gave to it the more sense it makes. That money could easily fund our clinic for the next decade.
Step one: ACT Health buys my building and takes over my debt
Step two: ACT Health takes over our staff and employ our GPs as salaried Hospital Doctors
Step three: Keep the clinic open seven days a week for the same hours as the Nurse-led Walk-In Clinics are presently doing.
Advantages for ACT Health:
- A primary care health service staffed by Doctors with a full unrestricted scope of primary care services
- Medicare rebates generated for every service delivered to offset the ACT Health expenses in running the facility
- Potential for a huge improvement in support systems and linking of primary care services with the secondary and tertiary care system in the ACT
Advantages for the current GPs at our clinic:
- Being able to focus fully on service delivery and not on running a business
- Having a similar, if not better, income that in private practice with the added benefits of paid leave and other entitlements.
Advantages for patients:
- Access to the full services of a properly qualified Specialist General Practitioner with no out of pocket costs. True bulkbilling without subterfuge such as annual membership fees or other sleigh of hand exercises.
- Having a true Healthcare home where a regular GP can be seen
IT all seems so simple and a more efficient way of spending eleven million dollars of the ACT Tax payers money.
So the ball is in your court ACT Health – you know where to find me.