Jim McGinty

Jim McGinty

Attorney General; Minister for Health; Electoral Affairs

    More bulk billing health care for WA families

    5/09/2004 11:00 AM

    Families with children will be offered after hours, bulk billing medical care at the revamped GP clinic opened in Joondalup today.

    Health Minister Jim McGinty said the State Government and general practitioners in the area had struck an agreement that would see half of all the clinics’ patients bulk billed.

    “We are delighted that we have been able to work constructively with the Joondalup Health Campus and GPs in the area to offer affordable, after hours health care to the community,” Mr McGinty said.

    The clinic will offer bulk billing to all children under 16 and the disadvantaged, which will increase the number of patients bulk billed from 10 per cent currently to about 50 per cent.

    A discount will also be offered to health care and concession cardholders, so that a GP visit will cost $14.30.

    “Following the insolvency of GPDWA two months ago, negotiations continued with local GPs to extend after hours emergency clinics with different models to meet local needs - in the northern suburbs, sick children were seen as the priority,” the Minister said.

    “The Government would have preferred 100 per cent bulk billing for the Joondalup clinic, however it is important we proceed with support and agreement from the local medical profession.”

    The after hours clinic will be based at the existing centre at Joondalup Health Campus with extra patients referred from the emergency department at the hospital.

    The initiative is expected to increase the number of patients seen at the clinic from 7,000 a year to 10,000. An emergency nurse will be employed at the clinic to handle the additional cases.

    Joondalup’s emergency department sees more than 41,000 patients a year - however it is estimated that another 3,000 people seeking minor treatment leave because of lengthy waiting times.

    Improvements to the clinic will include an upgrade of the pathways between the clinic and emergency department, extra security and lighting and an electrocardiogram in the assessment room.

    The Joondalup clinic, which will be open until 11pm seven days a week, follows on from the success of the after-hours clinics at Royal Perth and Fremantle hospitals.

    Since opening three months ago GPs at the two clinics have seen almost 2,000 patients.

    The most common ailments treated by GPs included lacerations, ear, nose and throat problems, respiratory difficulties and minor injuries.

    “These are people who traditionally would have been treated by doctors in the hospital emergency departments and now, quite appropriately, are being attended to by a GP,” Mr McGinty said.

    “By allowing GPs to treat patients with minor ailments, some of the pressure is taken off emergency department staff so they can concentrate on patients with more serious conditions.

    “It also means that patients with minor conditions no longer have to wait for hours in an emergency department for treatment.”

    The clinics are part of the State Government's strategy to relieve pressure on hospital emergency departments. Other initiatives include:
    • a $20million allocation to open 332 extra hospital beds across metropolitan hospitals during the winter months;
    • $22million to upgrade hospital emergency departments;
    • $34.7million for St John Ambulance to put more ambulances on the road and employ 100 new staff;
    • recruitment of more than 1,156 full-time salaried nurses in public hospitals; and
    • a $23.6million initiative to provide around the clock mental health teams and holding beds in emergency departments.
    Minister's office: 9220 5000