The ongoing saga of trying to create public awareness of the massive waste of money represented by the ACT Government funded Nurse-led Walk in Clinics has finally, after literally years of campaigning, led to an article in our local Canberra Times .
All attempts to highlight the daily spending of tens of thousands of dollars on a service justified by an imaginary need, while ignoring the real and proven needs at other levels i.e. the public Hospital Outpatients, have up to now been ignored by all other medial outlets on either side of the political spectrum.
As expected the article over the weekend has resulted in some letters to the Editor defending these clinics. Anecdotes are however not evidence and I have subsequently penned a response to the Editor – unfortunately I have in the past had very little luck in ever managing to get my responses on this matter published by the Canberra Times so I will copy the response here for those reading my blog:
In response to the comments made by your readers about this matter. Anecdotes are fine but go only so far. I would refer your readers to the data released by the ACT health department which shows that:
a. The vast majority of the people seen at the clinics are for colds & coughs and are seen during normal business hours and not during the extended opening hours
b. Each Clinic employs ten Clinicians yet only sees an average of 3.5 people an hour at the cost of $ 188 a visit
At the same time as GP I have no access to public access for my patients with cataracts and people with prostate problems or needing to see Ear Nose and Throat Specialists wait over three years for an appointment at Outpatient Clinics.
As a taxpayer and GP I find this to be an incredibly poor use of an already overstretched health budget – at the current costs the future planned five clinics will cost ACT taxpayers nearly $50, 000 every single day – money which we simply do not have to waste.
It is even more concerning when these Centres are rolled out without any sort of due diligence – there has been no recent market analysis to justify this expense.
To claim that they are justified because there is insufficient access to bulkbilling GPs is patently untrue – there are at least two large fully bulkbilling clinics in the ACT that operates the exact same hours that the Nurse led clinics do and many smaller clinic are also open after normal working hours. Clinics where a bulkbilled attendance costs the Federal taxpayer a mere $37 per visit.
As repeatedly stated in various publications there is also zero evidence (as opposed to anecdotes) that these clinics have any impact on the Emergency Departments’ workload
The millions spent on these Nurse-led clinics simply cannot be justified on any level while we see the services at our hospital outpatient clinics deteriorate -this should be a major concern to any ACT taxpayer
Dr Thinus van Rensburg ”
I should clarify my motivation in continuing my tilt at this particular windmill:
- The Walk in Clinics do not impact my own Medical Practice financially – we are not in the immediate vicinity and it is not a threat to us
- I do see documents coming to me from the Walk in Clinics regarding patients of ours that are now attending there instead of seeing a GP – these people are attending with minor injuries or infections and don’t see a GP at all. The opportunity for health education and holistic care is therefore lost. These people are the end losers as there is very clear evidence of the health benefits of having and attending a regular GP.
- As a taxpayer I am extremely unhappy to see my tax money being used in such a fiscally irresponsible fashion