Bandaid solution: GP clinic to relieve emergency department pressure

SETTING up a general practitioner  bulk billing service at Orange hospital is on the agenda after more than half the cases treated at the hospital in the last financial year were non-urgent  patients who could have been seen by  their doctor.

“This issue is now high on our radar and at the end of May the Western Local Health District (WLHD) will have discussions with general practitioners and Medicare Local to start the planning process,” WLHD chief executive officer Scott McLachlan said .

Mr McLachlan said  more than 17,600 patients, or approximately half the people who attended the emergency department at Orange hospital between July 1, 2012 and June 30, 2013, were there for minor  ailments.

“What we have to consider is that a proportion of these visits were through the day,  by people who don’t want to pay and want to be bulk billed,” Mr McLachlan said.

“We have identified a location and have identified there will be cost savings by setting up a GP practice at the health service.”

Mr McLachlan said the number of Orange patients identified as going to the hospital for treatment for minor ailments more than justifies looking at a plan to install a GP at the hospital.

“A GP clinic would be viable and it absolutely makes sense,” he said.

Mr McLachlan said  the idea of a roster system for the clinic will be discussed at the meeting with GPs and Medicare representatives.

He said the proposal to set up a clinic recognises that health services have to move away from the traditional arrangement of an emergency department for non-urgent cases.

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