Yesterday the Liberals Jeremy Hanson was quoting Australian Institute of Health and Welfare research on medical practitioner numbers declining.
Today Chief Minister Gallagher is letting us know she’s got a good feeling:
“I have been hearing anecdotally, that there has been an improvement in local GPs taking on new clients and an increase in GP numbers,” the Chief Minister said.
“I also became aware that medical centres such as the Ginninderra Medical and Dental Centre in Belconnen, run by Primary Health Care, were going to recommence bulk billing to all patients, and indeed have recently been advertising a return to a full bulk billing model.
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“While bulk billing rates in Canberra have historically been some of the lowest in the Country, and while this is a Federal Government responsibility, I was really interested to see what the case was here locally, and what patients were being told when calling local GPs,” the Chief Minister said.
Over the last few weeks, the Chief Ministers office has been doing a survey of all the local GP clinics to establish whether they were accepting new patients, and whether or not they bulk billed.
“What the survey discovered was that around 70% of GPs were taking on new patients, which confirmed what I had been hearing. I was quite surprised that the rate was as high as this and would indicate an increase in GPs operating out of existing practices, since we know that demand for access to healthcare is also increasing.
“We are also seeing new practices establishing here in Canberra. In particular, the establishment of new practices by Tristar Medical Group – opened in Bruce this month and plans for new practices in Greenway and Mitchell which will open very soon, will see yet another 18 new GPs.
“It is difficult to get exact data on GP capacity and so I would like further work done in collaboration with Medicare Local to look at things like the age profile of GPs, their future intentions, numbers of new recruits, ANU Graduates, migration and expected retirements.
The increased bulk billing is good news.