Jim McGinty

Jim McGinty

Attorney General; Minister for Health; Electoral Affairs

    More bulk billing health care for families

    3/09/2005 12:00 AM

    More Western Australian families with children and health care cardholders will be offered bulk billing medical care with the opening of a new after hours GP clinic in Bentley.

    The clinic is the fifth of its type to open near a major hospital in Perth under a constructive partnership between the Western Australian and Australian Governments.

    Health Minister Jim McGinty said the new Bentley GP clinic was part of the State Government’s ongoing effort to help ease the pressure on hospital emergency departments.

    Mr McGinty said the latest figures from Royal Perth Hospital showed the number of major trauma cases had increased by more 21 per cent in the past year, with total trauma admissions rising by almost 10 per cent.

    "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,” he said.

    “The four after hours GP clinics at Royal Perth, Fremantle, Joondalup and Rockingham hospitals are playing a pivotal role alongside the emergency departments, treating more than 25,000 patients since opening last year.”

    The most common ailments treated by GPs at the clinics include lacerations, ear, nose and throat problems, respiratory difficulties and minor injuries.

    The Minister said the after hours clinics also provided valuable medical care during the winter months, traditionally the busiest time for hospitals.

    “Perth’s major hospitals faced a tough winter season this year, with Perth setting new records for the wettest June since 1968 and the coldest daily maximum in June since 1966,” he said.

    “Consequently there has been a sharp increase in flu activity this year, with official notifications showing 351 cases so far this year, compared with 37 cases at the same time last year.

    “Overall more than 77,000 people presented themselves to an emergency department between May and August this year, compared with 68,856 patients during the same period last year.”

    Despite the 12 per cent increase in emergency department activity, Mr McGinty said hospitals had coped well.

    The Minister said doctors at the Bentley GP clinic estimated they would treat up to 12,000 people in the first two years of operation. It was estimated about 70 per cent of the clinic’s patients would be bulk billed.

    “The Government would have preferred 100 per cent bulk billing for the Bentley clinic but it is important that we have the support of the local medical profession to meet the health needs of the people who need it most, such as children and health care cardholders," Mr McGinty said.

    “The opening of the latest after hours GP clinic shows the Gallop Government is committed to improving the quality of services to all Western Australians.”

    The clinic will be open from 7pm to 10pm weeknights and from 2pm to 9pm on weekends and public holidays. Patients can walk in or be referred from hospital emergency departments and HealthDirect.

    Minister's office: 9220 5000