Trying to get to a doctor in Canberra, a joke without a punchline.

AngryHenry 17 August 2009 67

After booking a week ahead with my doctor for an appointment (I had some stiches that needed removing) I opted to go in early(prior to 9am) to ensure I was going to make it to work on time, only to end up waiting for two hours.

This certainly isn’t a first for me, in fact, whenever I have been off work ill I have found it increasingly more difficult to get a doctors apoointment within a week of calling. Alsoon numerous occaisions I have had to deal with narky receptionists who have either booked me in incorrectly or forgotten I have even checked in at the front desk, leaving me there to wait until I have spoken up.

To top this off I was never even informed my regular GP had moved when his practice in my suburb had closed down, leading me on a wild goose chase in order to find where he now worked from and having to argue black and blue that whilst I was new at that practice the GP in question I had been seeing for quite a few years.

I am over it! My dog gets better treatment at the vet!

Yes I understand there are people sicker than me but something needs to be done to address this ridiculous situation.

If I was in prison I think I would be able to see a doctor within 24 hours.  As it stands I have to pay $70 for the privilege of waiting two hours to see my regular doctor (of which I can claim back $30 bucks).

Like I said before, I understand there are people with more problems than me in this regard BUT how is this fair or reasonable for law-abiding, tax paying, citizens?

I shudder to think of how people on lower incomes than mine deal with this situation, especially in an emergency.


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67 Responses to Trying to get to a doctor in Canberra, a joke without a punchline.
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felixyschan felixyschan 5:51 pm 27 Aug 11

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Watson Watson 5:56 pm 29 May 11

Gin02 said :

I could not have said it better myself. More than happy to pay to see a doctor but is it too much to expect them to give me more than 3 minutes of their time for my $60.

+1

I don’t have a problem with the fee, only with what I get for that money. Which is most often less than what I can get for free from Google!

I once took my daughter to CALM because her thigh had started swelling up considerably after she got her vaccination the day before. (I also lodged an official complaint about the GP who administered the shots, but that’s too long a story) I walked in, explained in a couple of sentences what I was concerned about, got my daughter to hike up her skirt, he glanced at her for 2 seconds from a meter away and said “allergic reaction”. Then he prescribed her Phenergan, without warning me about side effects (I know, I should’ve read the advice on the medication, but it didn’t occur to me at the time) so I ended up sending the poor little mite to preschool drugged to her eye balls and barely able to stand up by lunch time. I was in and out of that consulation room in probably 2 minutes and it cost me $50 of my own money and about $40 of the tax payers’. I lodged a complaint with the medical board about that experience.

If a GP these days asks to examine me – or in fact gives me any useful advice – I am so stumped that I have to ask them to repeat themselves.

I once went to a GP to have him draw up an “Enhance Primary Care Plan” as I suffer from a chronic disease and would’ve been able to claim some treatments that are otherwise not covered by medicare. He sighed, rolled his eyes, muttered that it would take him ages to write that up, asked me a few very impatient questions about my medical history, then cut me short and said “I don’t have time for this, book a double appointment next week and I’ll see what I can do for you”. Now I wouldn’t have minded booking a double appointment if he would’ve shown the least amount of sympathy and commitment to providing the care that I needed. I walked out of there feeling miserable and never got the plan drawn up.

I insist that the vast majority of GPs in Canberra seem to have spent their 10 years at uni practicing to write illegibly.

Now I would really like a practising GP to respond to this one.

Gin02 Gin02 2:13 pm 29 May 11

I could not have said it better myself. More than happy to pay to see a doctor but is it too much to expect them to give me more than 3 minutes of their time for my $60.

Wily_Bear Wily_Bear 12:44 pm 29 May 11

charliemack said :

Roberto1 said :

Reading the foregoing I get the impression that some people are blaming GPs for the parlous state of the health care system.

The unpalatable fact is that Medicare has been used to control the cost of General Practice without any regard to what effect it might have on the supply of GP services. So as GPs gradually retire and die off there are no new graduates coming through to replace them. Why would a new graduate train for some eleven years to become a GP, to bulk bill a bunch of whingers who want it all for nothing, right now.

Having been screwed over by Medicare as a GP for many years, it is with some amusement that I read the comments on this thread.

Hear Hear!! Well said and I throughly agree!

Some people can be so ignorant and they do indeed want it all for themselves, when they want it (usually 5 minutes ago!) and then want this service for free! Sorry chaps, it just doesn’t work like that, especially in this day and age! Why should Doctors have to work for nothing and provide what is an essentially free service to someone after their hard work doing 10 years of study! They deserve to be able to earn a living and also earn a decent wage for the services they provide. It is also the cost of the responsibility they have, not only in prescriptions etc, but also having to tell someone for example they have cancer or you have x amount of time to live and then attempt to ease this process of dying. Would you like that responsibility??!! You’re all happy enough to go an pay ridiculous amounts for materialistic possessions and can’t wait to go an sue someone to get even more money (probably using if you don’t win you don’t pay lawyers to boot!)… Completely agree with Roberto1!! Canberrans, get over it, bloody pack of whingers!

I am more than happy to pay a premium price to consult a GP, on the proviso that I am indeed provided with a good service,(right now, I’d settle for adequate). Until my wonderful GP passed away several years ago, I had not had the misfortune of having to negotiate finding a doctor worth his/her money in over 17 years. Finding a new GP has been a nightmare. The first one I tried at a ‘super clinic’ in Belconnen, wanted to conduct expensive tests on a part of my body that had been surgically removed years ago, and refused to believe the tests were unnessecary (in fact, impossible).
The second attempt at another super clinic in Woden area, I simply needed a medical certificate from work after coming down with a chest infection. I got there 20 mins prior to opening, paid my $60.00, entered the consulting room, Dr wrote me a certificate and handed it to me. He did not utter a single word throughout the 3 minute consultation. Feeling somewhat aggrieved, I asked if he would like to listen to my chest (just in case it was pneumonia or something!) and he laughed, saying “you know what is wrong” ! Seriously ?
Next attempt, took daughter to same place, I’m clearly a slow learner, when she had a heavy cold. I know they can’t help, however again required a medical certificate from work. Waited four hours, with at least three to go, when my poor baby cried and asked to go home to bed. On a whim, we dropped into Wanniassa chemist, and recieved a medical certificate within 30 mins. Guess what ? They spent 20 of those minutes examining her carefully, and provided concise instructions on what to look for in case she got worse. Needless to say, when sick it is now a battle to get her to see a Doctor. Recently when meeting a student doing medicine at uni, she was overheard advising her to become a pharmicist instead, because, ‘ Otherwise you’ll work in a big doctor factory and hate your job’. From the mouths of babes heehee.
Obviously, a pharmicist cannot replace a doctor, however if you just need a certificate, don’t subject your kids or yourself to ridiculous wait times , in rooms full of sick, cranky and viral ridden patrons. Go to a chemist and then go back home to bed.

charliemack charliemack 6:26 pm 28 May 11

Roberto1 said :

Reading the foregoing I get the impression that some people are blaming GPs for the parlous state of the health care system.

The unpalatable fact is that Medicare has been used to control the cost of General Practice without any regard to what effect it might have on the supply of GP services. So as GPs gradually retire and die off there are no new graduates coming through to replace them. Why would a new graduate train for some eleven years to become a GP, to bulk bill a bunch of whingers who want it all for nothing, right now.

Having been screwed over by Medicare as a GP for many years, it is with some amusement that I read the comments on this thread.

Hear Hear!! Well said and I throughly agree!

Some people can be so ignorant and they do indeed want it all for themselves, when they want it (usually 5 minutes ago!) and then want this service for free! Sorry chaps, it just doesn’t work like that, especially in this day and age! Why should Doctors have to work for nothing and provide what is an essentially free service to someone after their hard work doing 10 years of study! They deserve to be able to earn a living and also earn a decent wage for the services they provide. It is also the cost of the responsibility they have, not only in prescriptions etc, but also having to tell someone for example they have cancer or you have x amount of time to live and then attempt to ease this process of dying. Would you like that responsibility??!! You’re all happy enough to go an pay ridiculous amounts for materialistic possessions and can’t wait to go an sue someone to get even more money (probably using if you don’t win you don’t pay lawyers to boot!)… Completely agree with Roberto1!! Canberrans, get over it, bloody pack of whingers!

tamabo tamabo 1:27 pm 06 Aug 10

for those who go to the belco centres, i agree they are gabage. i had to get checked for whooping cough one day as my cough sounded like it and i work with babies- sat in the waiting room for well over 4 hours. it doesn’t bother me so much as i had a book but i felt terrible about the risk of spreading to other ppl, if you leave and miss your name you have to start all over again. having said that. If you go to Yass you can usaully get an appointment for afternoon if you call in the morning, the staff are friendly( and on time) and while you waste 40 minutes getting there, you save approx 3 hours that you would have spent waiting in canberra.

Roberto1 Roberto1 7:42 pm 09 Jan 10

Reading the foregoing I get the impression that some people are blaming GPs for the parlous state of the health care system.

The unpalatable fact is that Medicare has been used to control the cost of General Practice without any regard to what effect it might have on the supply of GP services. So as GPs gradually retire and die off there are no new graduates coming through to replace them. Why would a new graduate train for some eleven years to become a GP, to bulk bill a bunch of whingers who want it all for nothing, right now.

Having been screwed over by Medicare as a GP for many years, it is with some amusement that I read the comments on this thread.

doves2 doves2 11:27 pm 25 Aug 09

You can contact CALMS it’s connected to Canberra Hospital and also Calvery Hospital, you need to make an appointment, and they do house calls if needed, the cost is $70 if you go to them.

Swan Swan 11:29 am 25 Aug 09

sepi said :

And thus the bunnings model hits medicine – undercut everyone else til they go out of business, then jack the prices right back up.

This just fits in line with talk of future privatisation of Medicare.
And to kindly correct your saying, its actually the WallMart model.

Get ready Australia. Who else can hear the thunder?

And to add, I have never had problems with waiting times and, recently, I’ve been seeing my doctor more frequently than usual. I’ve also been using other public medical like services with no long waiting times.

sepi sepi 10:40 am 25 Aug 09

The CT confirms today that Phillip and Ginninderra medical centres will charge 30.00 per appointment, excepting under 16s and pensioners.

And thus the bunnings model hits medicine – undercut everyone else til they go out of business, then jack the prices right back up.

Primary health care own these medical centres – they are the ones that promised bulk billing would remain when they closed Wanniassa practice, they closed Giralang medical centre overnight without telling anyone, and according to letters to the editor over some weeks they are withholding people’s medical records.

I hope this plan to charge people backfires on them. Who wants to wait for hours in the waiting room and then pay for the privilege?

gun street girl gun street girl 8:58 pm 19 Aug 09

Actually, the length quoted is almost correct. Post graduate GP training requires a minimum of 2 years hospital training, followed by a further 2 years in the community (including rural secondment). Many trainees exceed that minimum pathway by doing additional training before taking their fellowship.

georgesgenitals georgesgenitals 8:56 pm 19 Aug 09

Perhaps instead we should lower the medical uni entry standards, push more students through with lower exam requirements, and pay them less. What a great idea…

SpellingAndGrammar SpellingAndGrammar 8:44 pm 19 Aug 09

pepmeup said :

SpelligAndFramma,
From finishing year 12 to becoming a GP on that sort of money is 6 years uni 2 years hospital tranning the 3 more years specialising then getting enough experience to work for yourself.

option b

do a 1 year tafe course in it and consult to the government on $140,000 year one.

Oh – boo hoo. I bet they get paid a helluva lot more than your average apprentice – which is exactly what they are…

For those who actually undertake the length of training you mentioned above – they’re not your garden variety GP – they’re more likely to be your specialist and based on the current parliamentary debate, there are some of those who are benefiting to the tune of more than $4m per annum. AGAIN – at the taxpayers pleasure. It is greed that beleaguers our health system. We need to look at the UK model.

pepmeup pepmeup 3:43 pm 19 Aug 09

SpelligAndFramma,

GPs earning $250-$300 grand a year well certainly not in the first 10-20 years after6 years of education.

From finishing year 12 to becoming a GP on that sort of money is 6 years uni 2 years hospital tranning the 3 more years specialising then getting enough experience to work for yourself.

option b

do a 1 year tafe course in it and consult to the government on $140,000 year one.

SpellingAndGrammar SpellingAndGrammar 2:30 pm 19 Aug 09

RatsNest said :

Had to go to Phillip medical centre yesterday, while there I was informed that the gov’t is trying to force the few bulk billing centres that we have to stop bulk billing. They wont take appointments, you’ll just have to fork out for the privilege of sitting around for 3 hours to see the docs there.

Don’t believe what they tell you. Nothing has changed. It is just a grab for more money.

SpellingAndGrammar SpellingAndGrammar 2:28 pm 19 Aug 09

It is unfortunate that on a $ per minute scenario, GPs receive more money for the standard level B constultation (the most common one) than they do for spending more time with a patient. If only one person takes longer than the standard 10 minutes allowed, then it all turns to crap – obviously the later in the day the worse it is.

One of the many wonderful things that the patriarchal John Howard did for us was to provide a list of a range of health professionals that could provide certificates accepted for sick leave. These include pharmacists, physiotherapists and even Chinese medicine herbalists. However, you should really check with your employer. In my trawling of the web, I have found the Pharmacy Guild’s guidelines here: http://www.guild.org.au/qld/content.asp?id=1633. However, don’t expect this to be gratis.

As for comment number 38 – I think that GP income of a minimum $250 to $300 thousand per annum as is pretty good – particularly when it is underwritten by taxpayers!

RatsNest RatsNest 12:53 pm 19 Aug 09

Had to go to Phillip medical centre yesterday, while there I was informed that the gov’t is trying to force the few bulk billing centres that we have to stop bulk billing. They wont take appointments, you’ll just have to fork out for the privilege of sitting around for 3 hours to see the docs there.

Lilli Lilli 11:15 am 19 Aug 09

GnT said :

I propose we need a third tier of health care, in between GPs and hospital emergency, for urgent cases that are not life and death emergencies. There would be a triage system where a nurse would be able to tell you if you should go to hospital, or just go home and rest. Of course, if there were enough GPs this would be their job!

&

dvaey said :

I do agree with post #41 that we need a 3rd level healthcare system. Something to take the load off GPs and ERs, however I think if such a system was setup it would fall into the same state of disrepair as our current system.

As far as I am aware there is no face to face service that would offer this sort of triage advice, but, in situations such as these I often ring Health Direct (1800 022 222), a 24 hour line staffed by nurses. They are happy to note symptoms etc. and then advise on whether a GP visit will suffice or the ER may be necessary. I’ve always found them to be extremely helpful – a great service really.

See http://www.healthdirect.org.au/ for more information.

dvaey dvaey 9:28 am 19 Aug 09

This might sound a bit logical, but Im guessing that those patients talked about in post #2 (and others), have regular doctors appointments which last for a regular amount of time. If you know some patients will want to chat to the doctor to fill in their lonely lives, then why not allow for it?

Dont give the little old lady the same length appointment time as the office worker who wants to be in and out quick, this is why doctors have extended consultations available. The problem is, if receptionists make an extended appointment time, that reduces the total number of patients per day the doctor can see, so I imagine its an unwritten rule to make as many short appointments as possible, even if patients ask for longer.

I do agree with post #41 that we need a 3rd level healthcare system. Something to take the load off GPs and ERs, however I think if such a system was setup it would fall into the same state of disrepair as our current system.

VYBerlinaV8_the_one_they_all_copy VYBerlinaV8_the_one_they_all_copy 8:25 am 19 Aug 09

sepi said :

Last week I had a dr appt for a sick baby, we had the appt, the dr decided he needed urgent lung x-rays, so she sent me off for that, then I was to wait outside her rooms with the results and she would see me in between patients, so I did that, then she got on the phone to various specialists trying to get us in – the entire second appt was unscheduled. I imagine it only takes this type of thing to happen with a couple of patients a day and the whole day is out of whack.

Just goes to show that doctors generally really do care. Hope the little guy is doing well.

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