7 September 2010

Seeking a GP in Canberra

| marjal70
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After yet another 2 hour wait at the Health Centre at Phillip (which I am told is an average wait ) I have decided enough is enough.

I’ve heard that there is a major Dr shortage in Canberra but does anybody know of any GP’s that are accepting new patients?

I am a recent arrival to Canberra and live on the Southside but I am willing to travel anywhere and pay whatever it takes.

My family has a couple of minor but ongoing health issues and we would like to see the same doctor each visit.

I have a horrible feeling that I am asking for the impossible but if anybody has any suggestions I would be very grateful.

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Hi Mate,

We recently moved to Gunghalin from the south side and were in the look out for a GP in the area rather than driving towards the south.

Was recommended Dr Srinivas and have been going there for more than an year. I have got young kids 🙂

Good old google helped me with the link – http://www.mygpgungahlin.com.au/

There is a bit of waiting at times, But other than that no real issues.

There is a New clinic in Weston Creek called Weston Creek Medical Practice. It has same day appointments and also has a Physio working out of the same practice called Flex Out Physiotherapy.
The doctor is friendly and takes time to get to know his patients. The contact number is 61452458 for the doctor or the physiot

gun street girl9:00 am 14 Sep 10

catey said :

What is the government doing to make Canberra attractive to doctors to come here and to encourage after hours medical assistance other than the hospitals? we need to make some noise with the government on these issues!

The Government’s off to a good start by making the ACT an intolerable place to train. That’s a sure-fire way to ensure people return to Canberra to work once fully qualified, not to mention providing a great backbone to the smooth running of the hospital system.

http://www.canberratimes.com.au/news/local/news/general/doctors-quitting-over-shortages/1939271.aspx

finding a GP is one thing and I had trouble finding one accepting patients when I moved to canberra 5 years ago. last night the problem was finding an after hours doctor for a sick baby.

Canberra desperately needs more after hours medical centres – not sure about down south but northside is way short! Belconnen centre (closes at 10pm) said they could look at my 15 month old on closing at 10pm. Calvary was packed with people waiting to see someone. I ended up calling CALMS, putting him to bed and taking him to them at 10pm instead so we didn’t have to sit with a baby in a waiting room for hours and since that doctor wasn’t sure, ended up at Canberra hospital with a letter to get us in faster!

What is the government doing to make Canberra attractive to doctors to come here and to encourage after hours medical assistance other than the hospitals? we need to make some noise with the government on these issues!

Canberra GPs do not generally bulk bill for anyone. That includes children, pensioners etc.

Do Canberra GPs generally bulk bill for children?

JumpingTurkey5:06 pm 12 Sep 10

@Sandpiper: it might be worthwhile calling the insurance provider and find out whether they will cover preexisting conditions. In terms of life insurance this is a big deal and many will not cover preexisting conditions or do so only with a hefty premium increase, but in terms or private health insurance they are probably happy to cover you for preexisting conditions – including your son’s problem that he had since birth.

The Lyneham Centre sounds close to us. I am very unfamiliar with ACT suburbs so didn’t realise it was nearby. Might be some hope.

Thanks for that Jumping Turkey. And since they dont’ cover for pre-existing conditions (I assume) then I guess it doesn’t cover the conditions my son has had since birth or anything I might have prior to taking out the insurance even if it is only found afteward…(?)

JumpingTurkey9:35 pm 10 Sep 10

health insurance are not worth the money except for the fact that you get whacked with a medicare surcharge if you are a high income earner unless you have a private health insurance by age 30.
private insurance gives you no benefits as far as GPs or specialists or x-rays or scans or pathology are concerned. if you need surgery then this could come in handy but you will still be out of pocket by many hundreds if not thousands of dollars.
from purely economic point of view, getting rid of private insurance and private hospitals and making it all public is far better. if you compare NHS of UK for instance compared to US health system, it uses less than half the money per capita and delivers superior health outcomes compared to US.

I am also about to try to find a GP who is accepting new patients. We are in the City and I was hoping that there might be one local to us. Are there any recommendations for the city area or thereabouts?

Interestingly my son has to pay the medicare surcharge for the first time so we’ve been trying to find out whether health insurance is worth it. I have found this question difficult to research given our very limited experience with medical issues and insurance.

When it says that you get a choice of doctor I am wondering what that means in our system where my impression (perhaps false) is that there are not many to choose from anyway? And I am wondering how I’d know which was better anyway in order to make use of that capacity to choose.

I came away with the impression that health insurance is neither equitable or perhaps very useful however as it my son’s decision, are there any other opinions on how health insurance benefits actually work in real life situations so I can put a picture to the words?

Quite frankly I’d settle for just having a good supply of GP’s that are willing to take new patients in return for the cost of health insurance but it seems you can’t get that for love or money.

There’s always the west belconnen health co-op.

shadow boxer4:21 pm 09 Sep 10

I have a reasonable GP but he is far too busy for his own good now, is it too much to ask that the GP may have read my file before the consultation so I don’t have to explain my entire history every time I go in….it seems it would also be faster.

Graham Harrison in Wanniassa is really good. I’ve never seen more than 3 other people in the waiting room at one one time and have never waited more than 30 minutes. Good luck on your quest.

JumpingTurkey1:20 pm 09 Sep 10

It is important to find a good GP that you find comfortable seeing.

There are obviously different opinions (and other GPs may have a different view), but things to look out for in a good GP are:

(1) Do you get along with them? GPs all have different styles and personalities, and you may find that you get along with certain kinds of GPs better.

(2) Are they competent? Generally speaking, you can tell who is competent by looking for GPs who tend to ask a lot of question in the beginning, especially open ended questions, and GPs who spend a bit more time on examining you, and have a fairly logical explanation for their diagnosis. In my view, the longer the questioning and the more detailed the doctor’s questioning, the better the doctor (although some very experienced and older GPs may not need to ask as many questions). It is well recognised that 90% of clues on diagnosis comes from what the person tells you, only 7% comes from the physical examination, and further tests tend to add only 3%.

3. A not-so-good indicator of a good GP is a GP who automatically follows all of your requests and your ‘orders’. This means that the GP also believes that he or she is a vending machine, where the patient – or the ‘customer’ – presses a button – and the GP will give this out.

While this sounds like a good thing, problem with this approach is the loss of professionalism and caring attitude. The GP automatically becomes disenfranchised to the extent that they’ll do just enough to cover their butt to avoid litigation and lawsuit, but nothing beyond that. They will not offer you sincere recommendation on what they believe that you should do, they’ll just give you 2 options with a long list of pros and cons and make you decide. That way you will be responsible for everything that happens to you.

I don’t know how many people prescribe to that view, but I’d like to see GPs as being more than a dispensing machine. I’d like to see us as being caring, and if a person doesn’t turn up, then caring enough to ask or call; if someone is in trouble then they will go out of their call of duty to care for them.

And GPs who truly care, who truly have integrity and high standards will, from time to time, refuse your requests. Of course, I don’t mean that they should do so in a rude manner or unreasonable manner (most requests that I get from my patients are very reasonable and I am more than happy to honour them, but we will get odd unreasonable requests too), but should be courteous and they should explain exactly why they are not going to agree with you or offer you a certain course of treatment.

And if you see a GP who has integrity and the honesty and caring attitude that they will not always agree with your thoughts and sometimes will even get into a minor argument with you (think about it, what would be easier, to just listen to your request or to bother to actually disagree with you?), then I think that you have found a good GP.

My wife and I used to see Dr Reeve at the Weston Health Clinic, been patients for 20 odd years and always had good service and could always get appointments – sometimes at very short notice, and he bulk billed, unfortunately he was forced to close down his practice by the stupid government and had to relocate to Philip to one of those “walk in the door and hope you get to see someone soon” places where its apparently a lottery as to which doctor you eventually get to see!
We haven’t been yet as we have been overseas since he relocated and only just returned – we’re dreading going and trying to insist that we see him and not some Dr who doesn’t know our histories.
Not such a major problem for me as I don’t have much of a need for ongoing medication but my wife needs regular medication that needs to be authorised by someone that the doctor has to telephone before he or she is allowed to write a script for.

mark karlson12:02 pm 08 Sep 10

North Canberra Family Practice at Belconnen has heaps of doctors many of whom take new patients and are available reasonably quickly often same day. 6251 9006

“Maybe if you asked the question without the melodrama of having to wait 2 hours and going on about a doctor shortage you would have got a better response”.

Melodrama? I just said I’d waited two hours..where’s the melodrama?

Sigh…there’s one in every forum

Thankyou to everybody who had something relevant to say . Jumping Turkey I was particularly interested to read what a GP has to say on this subject, thankyou for taking the time to write that long post. I will be making a few phone calls in the next few days and hopefully will not be “doctorless’ for much longer.

If you want a doctor who is taking new patients (most in Canberra have closed their books), and can usually see you within 1-2 days or same day for an urgent need, seriously consider getting on the books of a doctor in one of the surrounding regional areas. Cooma is only an hour’s drive from you. I live in Goulburn and work in Canberra, and any medical care I can’t get at home I get in Bowral.

JumpingTurkey10:13 am 08 Sep 10

In terms of dr’s fees, I think $60-70 is more than reasonable amount for a 15 minute consultation with a highly trained medical professional, given that nurses walk in clinics (not at the hospital, but run by Revive) charge similar sort of fee. Out of this you will get $35 back which means that you will be out of pocket by $25 to 35.

Compare this to visiting your Vet for your dog (who will charge upwards of $80 for a basic consultation with no rebates), or visiting your dentist (without private insurance you will be up for a lot of money), or your accountant (my accountant charges me $380 for my BAS that probably takes him around an hour to do, and I am pretty sure that I’ve went to Uni longer than he has, and suffered more doing 80 hour working weeks in hospitals during my early doctor days), or your plumber. Don’t talk to me about what lawyers charge…

However I do regret that fees for our pensioners and people with health care cards are often too steep. This makes it a real barrier for them to come in with health problems and they’ll often not come in for these reasons – and their health will suffer as a result.
So bulk billing them would be reasonable for them I think.

But for the majority of you lot, I wouldn’t think that you belong in the latter groups (although I’ve seen 90+ year olds who are very active surfers of the internet, good on them).

JumpingTurkey9:52 am 08 Sep 10

Of course the best solution is to have more GPs!

JumpingTurkey9:48 am 08 Sep 10

As a GP I agree that 2 hour wait is not desirable.
However there are a few reasons for such a wait:

1. Consultations vary in length. In most cases we aim at 15 minute appointments, and in some cases they take shorter time than this, and in other cases they take considerably longer.

If you think that GPs just deal with coughs and colds, then you need to open your eyes to the fact that GPs do see elderly and people with chronic illnesses (and lots of that), who take longer – some may have mobility issues, or prefer that consultations take longer, take lots of medications and have a LONG history of complex medical problems, and often present with symptoms that are vague and take a long time to figure out what is going on.

In particular presentations such as chest pains – those people who walk in our surgery for this instead of going to Emergency department; or people with mental health issues – such as depression – are automatically 30-45 minute consultations. And there is no way that we can predict this in advance and book them in for longer appointments – as most people don’t tell the reception that they are having depression or having chest pains.

2. Many GPs fit in patients with urgent medical problems on the day. Overbooking is extremely common as people ring in saying that they need to be seen urgently. In addition, some people will just need to be followed up – e.g. if I saw a person with a bad skin infection on Monday, then I will need to see them again on Wednesday, even if I am booked out on that day for weeks in advance – hence we will overbook.

3. GP’s workflow varies through the week and through the month. If you insist on seeing your dr of choice with a day or even shorter’s notice, then chances are that you will not be able to see them. However if you are more flexible and are willing to see any dr in that surgery for more urgent issues, then you are more likely to be accommodated.

4. Patients run late. Say that someone is booked in at 10am. They are late. So no one turns up at 10am. The Gp sits there contemplating meaning of life, or more likely tries to catch up on paperwork – and then the 10:15am patient comes in so everything seems to be fine. And then at 10:20, the 10am patient walks in. by the time the GP is finished with the 10:15 patient, at 10:30, the GP is faced with 2 patients – the 10am patient who walked in late, and the 10:30 patient. So automatically the GP now runs 15 minutes behind, and everyone blames the GP, and has no idea that this was caused by the patient.

5. Patients who had to wait for long time generally take even longer. I think there is a mentality that they will spend as much time as possible with GP because they had to wait a long time. This is obviously not considering the fact that other patients suffer even more due to this. And the GP, feeling guilty, does not feel right to stop these longer consultations earlier.

6. GPs sometimes start consultations late. Yes sometimes GPs run late due to non-patient business – and this is probably not professional and not good. I do this too and I try to change my ways to ensure that this does not happen.
Other times however, I might be late because I am doing home visits (and get lost on the way), or I am visiting a nursing home to see patients there (and get held up there), etc so sometimes this is unavoidable.

I suppose one way to stop all of the above is to have GPs to have less consultations. If 3 people were booked in per hour rather than 4, then maybe GPs will run on time more often.
But this will make it next to impossible to see GPs.

Another way to stop all of the above is to have GPs see patients more quickly. And this is often the model of practice in some centres. But less is not more in many cases. Except for very minor illnesses, it is not reasonable for GPs to see more than 4-5 patients per hour. You can do it in short bursts – e.g. if another GP is away for a few days then you could get away with seeing more people – but otherwise the GP would burn out or even worse still provide care that is of not the highest quality.

TheVirulentOne9:25 am 08 Sep 10

Brindabella Medical Centre in Queanbeyan does indeed take new patients. No bulk billing, standard appointment costs approx $70-75, can’t remember exactly. They are rarely on time with appointments, I’ve often booked a time and waited over an hour to be seen.

JC said :

A 2 hour wait is nothing. What do you expect? To be able to walk in the door and see a doctor STRAIGHT away. Jesus if something is that bad you need to be seen straight away go to the hospital otherwise quit whining about a 2 hour wait for a walk up service.

haha, yeah go to hospital and you can look forward to a 6 hour wait.

FWIW, in japan you can wander into a doctor’s office or clinic without an appointment (they don’t have an appointment system for the most part) and be seen in 15-30 mins max. in most cases you might be expected to pay around AUD $10-15. oh and the same applies for dentists too.

they have national medical insurance–as do we. cost is more or less comparable to Aus. as well. so i don’t think a 2 hour wait is inevitable or unavoidable. nor do i think someone is off their rocker for bitching about a medical system where one has little choice but to wait 2 hours (or 6 if its a non-life-threatening emergency).

seriously, cheers to all the hard working doctors and nurses but who can possibly defend the dysfunctional system that makes it so difficult for people to get basic medical care in a timely and affordable manner?

this may not be of interest to you but to other, more northern residents, the west belconnen health coop is fantastic. you pay an annual membership fee ($50 for a non-concessional family membership) and you have access to their *bulk billing* gps. longest wait i have had is 24 hours so far. shortest has been determined by how long it would take me to get there by car.

staff, nurses and doctors are great. and since its bulk billed you can pop in if you’re feeling a bit crook without worrying about being $60-70 out of pocket. for those who aren’t particularly wealthy, this is not an inconsiderable benefit. if you have a concession card the annual fee is even less.

but yes, you do need to drive up to the old charnwood high school

marjal70 said :

What I want is to be able to find one doctor that I can see on a regular basis that I can make an appointment to see, regardless of the wait.I’m sorry if that is considered whining. I was warned that it got aggro

here but JC seriously do you talk to all complete strangers who ask a perfectly innocent question like this? Mate … switch to decaf.

Maybe if you asked the question without the melodrama of having to wait 2 hours and going on about a doctor shortage you would have got a better response.

So in essense your question could have been asked thus “Have just moved to Canberra, living southside, I want a regular doctor for me and my family, can anyone suggest one?”

lavalamp said :

This is the point marjal70 is making: he/she does not want to just walk in to the clinic and wait – he/she wants to have their own GP so they can book and appointment when they want to, and not have to wait 2 hours or more! Why don’t you read the post properly before making judgements.

I have a GP and I still have to wait 2 hours for appointments. Pisses me off no end when they say “2pm” and they mean “4pm, maybe”.

I agree that it’s important to have the same doctor, particularly for ongoing issues. Here are two truly awesome family doctors I would reccommend to anyone and have done to my dad and my friends. Everyone I’ve reccommended them too has given very positive feedback:

Dr Stan Doumani – Weston Creek (02) 6288 6008 – He was mine and my kids’ doctor from 1993-2004 often a long wait to get in because he’s damn good. He’ll refer to specialists when necessery and treats everyone with respect.

Dr Ian Mills Nothside General Practice O’Connor Shops 62487878 – Our family doctor from 2005 to present. He’s a rare find and is as good as Dr Doumani but closer to where we live and a shorter wait.

neither bulk bill

What I want is to be able to find one doctor that I can see on a regular basis that I can make an appointment to see, regardless of the wait.I’m sorry if that is considered whining. I was warned that it got aggro here but JC seriously do you talk to all complete strangers who ask a perfectly innocent question like this? Mate … switch to decaf.

Best thing I’ve found is to use the CALMs service for kids or the times you have a rough idea of what is going to happen (ie need a prescription for something). You ring up and get a booking that night (or that day if it’s the weekend). You go to either Canberra Hospital or Calvary Hospital to the CALMs desk. Maybe they are 10-15 mins behind schedule. You have to pay (credit card, eftpos, cash etc), no bulk bill, but you claim it back on Medicare.

http://www.health.act.gov.au/c/health?a=&did=10134232

You do need to have a GP which is registered with CALMs but I have no idea how they enforce it.

Clown Killer4:56 pm 07 Sep 10

If you’re in the deep south you could try the medical centre at Tuggeranong Square. It was the practice we went to before we moved. You mightn’t always get to see your preferred GP on short notice, but all of them were good and waiting times were never more than about 20 minutes.

lavalamp said :

This is the point marjal70 is making: he/she does not want to just walk in to the clinic and wait – he/she wants to have their own GP so they can book and appointment when they want to, and not have to wait 2 hours or more! Why don’t you read the post properly before making judgements.

I hope you find one soon marjal70!

If that was the point then why carry on about the 2 hour wait like it is a BAD thing? Even if you have your own doctor there is no gurantee you can be seen at short notice. In fact in my experiance having a doctor of choice means booking a few days in advance and if you are really sick and need to see a doctor ASAP you take your chances trying to see your doctor of choice or go to a walk-up clinic.

Try: Curtin Medical Centre, they have always been really quick and available at short notice. $60.

JC said :

A 2 hour wait is nothing. What do you expect? To be able to walk in the door and see a doctor STRAIGHT away. Jesus if something is that bad you need to be seen straight away go to the hospital otherwise quit whining about a 2 hour wait for a walk up service.

This is the point marjal70 is making: he/she does not want to just walk in to the clinic and wait – he/she wants to have their own GP so they can book and appointment when they want to, and not have to wait 2 hours or more! Why don’t you read the post properly before making judgements.

I hope you find one soon marjal70!

*just* a 2 hr wait for walk in service? wow, i think ive found a new doctor.

Isabella Plains Medical Centre might be taking new patients and it is pretty easy to get a same day appointment with them – 6292 8899.

Good luck.

A 2 hour wait is nothing. What do you expect? To be able to walk in the door and see a doctor STRAIGHT away. Jesus if something is that bad you need to be seen straight away go to the hospital otherwise quit whining about a 2 hour wait for a walk up service.

Try the Tuggeranong Square Medical Practice 62932600.

It would be quicker & easier to put yourself through medical school.

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