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Wanniassa Medical Centre closure – we are being steamrolled

By letsallcareabouthealthcare - 5 August 2008 43

My husband, children and myself have been seeing a doctor at the WMC for the past 10 years on the repeated advice that the best family health care is found by building a solid relationship with one trusted GP. If all Australia GPs were polled today (including those contracted to factories such as the Phillip Health care clinic) I doubt highly that consensus would differ from this opinion.

This issue has me very very concerned for health services in the ACT.

I too rang Primary Care this morning and asked to speak to someone to discuss the closure. I was told that there was no one there to speak to me and to put my “complaint” in writing. At that stage I had mentioned that I wished to discuss, not complain about, the issues.  As though they know that we have lots to complain about but simply don’t care.

If Primary Care did care enough to take the call of one of their potentially new “customers”, I would have liked to ask them:

  • How do they currently measure the performance of its contracted doctors at the Phillip Centre? Will the ex-WMC doctors be gauged by these same performance measures at any time within the next 2 years?
  • Are GPs at Phillip who engage in regular >5 minute consultations and/or do not maintain their quota of XRay and test referrals considered to be performing below Primary Care prescribed KPIs (Key Performance Indicators)?
  • What is the first available appointment for Dr X (previously from from the Wanniassa Medical Centre)  that I can make and can they guarantee that I will see THAT doctor within 3 hours of my scheduled appointment?
  • When was the last time that Primary Care polled its current Phillip patients to see how well the Centre is performing in the eyes of its current customers? If not in the last 12 months, how important are the views of Primary Care customers considered?
  • How many of the WCM doctors believe that the move to Phillip is largely a positive one for their respective patients’ health care?
  • What percentage of patient non-transfer rate from WMC have Primary Care deemed acceptable? i.e. have they calculated that the move is financially sound if up to 10%/20%/30% (or more) patients refuse to follow their doctors to Phillip?

I will pose these questions to Primary Care now in writing and will post their responses here when (and if) I receive a response.

Don’t hold your breath.

What’s Your opinion?


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43 Responses to
Wanniassa Medical Centre closure – we are being steamrolled
daktari 5:46 pm 06 Aug 08

As one of the doctors at the Phillip Medical Centre I think I can answer some of your questions.

“How do they currently measure the performance of its contracted doctors at the Phillip Centre? Will the ex-WMC doctors be gauged by these same performance measures at any time within the next 2 years?” The performance of contracted doctors at Phillip is not measured by PHC, all they need do is fulfill their contractual obligations. Part two of your question is therefore irrelevant.

“Are GPs at Phillip who engage in regular >5 minute consultations and/or do not maintain their quota of XRay and test referrals considered to be performing below Primary Care prescribed KPIs (Key Performance Indicators)?” The quicker amongst us average five patients per hour. There is no quota for Xrays or pathology. We can use any Xray or pathology service we choose. I am unaware of PHC having KPIs. Nice myth though: sorry to bust it.

“What is the first available appointment for Dr X (previously from from the Wanniassa Medical Centre) that I can make and can they guarantee that I will see THAT doctor within 3 hours of my scheduled appointment?” The doctors from Wanniassa will maintain their existing appointment system ie you make an appointment to see a specific doctor at a specific time. Their punctuality or lack thereof will be the same as it was before the move.

“When was the last time that Primary Care polled its current Phillip patients to see how well the Centre is performing in the eyes of its current customers? If not in the last 12 months, how important are the views of Primary Care customers considered?” That was done as part of accreditation just over a year ago.

“How many of the WCM doctors believe that the move to Phillip is largely a positive one for their respective patients’ health care?” Interesting question. The WMC doctors signed contracts with Symbion. Their contracts allowed for a move within five km of WMC. They, like the doctors at Phillip, received upfront payments for agreeing to the contractual conditions.

“What percentage of patient non-transfer rate from WMC have Primary Care deemed acceptable? i.e. have they calculated that the move is financially sound if up to 10%/20%/30% (or more) patients refuse to follow their doctors to Phillip?” There is such a massive shortage of GPs in this region that even if none of the WMC patients transferred to Phillip all the doctors are going to be flat out any way. By the way, a significant number of WMC patients already attend Phillip as we are open until 10.00 pm every day of the year.

There has been a lot of deliberate misinformation being peddled about the WMC move to Phillip. Contrary to the what Annette Ellis has told you, patients will be able to make appointments to see their own doctor. The WMC practice will be on a separate level, and has its own waiting area.

Interestingly, the Woden area was not considered an area of need by the federal health bureaucrats. However, we consistently see more that 300 patients a day. We see people who can’t get to see their own doctor in a reasonable time frame (within a few days), we see people who can’t get to a see a GP because none are accepting new patients, and we see out of hours patients when most GPs are having a well earned rest. We also see many patients who previously would have had to attend ED at the Canberra Hospital. As a result, we are extremely busy most of the time. We are unable to get enough doctors because of the shortage that exists. Most patients accept that we are doing the best we can under the circumstances. However,a small minority are rude and aggressive toward the reception staff, and carry on like spoiled children. Can you imagine someone making a scene at the door of a restaurant that was about to close (like mdme workalot)?

So instead of blaming the doctors at Phillip for the inconvenience of having to wait for medical attention, perhaps have a think about why there is such a massive shortage of GPs (clue: GP numbers are not controlled by the medical profession).

While it will be inconvenient fore some, the Wanniassa Medical Centre is being moved is being moved lock stock and barrel into new premises less than 5 km up the road.

Wide Boy Jake 5:14 pm 06 Aug 08

The only thing I regret is that with all the Tuggeranong bogans flooding into the Phillip Medical Centre it will take even longer to see one of their bulk billing GPs. The last time I was there (just to get a repeat on my prescription) I had to wait almost three hours. Will the current waiting room be big enough or will people be spilling out onto the street?

Whatsup 2:15 pm 06 Aug 08

Sounds like the receptionist was on a power trip. Maybe she is training to be a librarian.

peterh 1:27 pm 06 Aug 08

we all pay through the nose to see a doctor in a practice that charges like a wounded bull.

there are the odd occasions where I can’t get one of the kids into these practices, and it leaves me sitting in a queue at phillip, waiting patiently with a screaming sick child.

I have been asked a couple of times to quieten the child down by reception, as it is upsetting the other patients. Maybe if they had all doctors on at the same time, with shorter waiting times, this wouldn’t be an issue. Little people have very short attention spans. they don’t delight in screaming and crying when in pain, and I understand.

The final straw for me was when I was informed that if I could not control my child, after 3 hours in the waiting area, i would be asked to leave. It was a bit of a shock to me, the 4 other parents with crying children, and in fact most of the patients. If my kids hadn’t been screaming and crying in obvious distress, I wouldn’t have been there. d’oh!

ant 12:23 pm 06 Aug 08

It really is a big problem. Where do you go for serious things that need seeing to NOW but don’t want to clutter up casualty? ie the broken foot (can imagine the pain of that, I had a torn achilles tendon and it was the longest night of my life). You can’t get in to see your normal GP for days, usually. Casualty is crazy long waits.

What do people do?

Clown Killer 10:53 am 06 Aug 08

My GP is one of the doctors at WMC that is being told they have to move to Philip. The WMC doctors are apparently not happy about the move and the way it has been managed by Primary Care. Fortunately for us, our GP is only contracted to work at WMC for 2.5 days a week and they work from another practice in the south the other 2.5 days. We’ll be shifting to that practice – primarily to maintain our care under the same doctor, but also to make sure the Primary Health don’t get any of our money.

sepi 10:28 am 06 Aug 08

I’ve got a story about Phillip medical centre too.

Father in Law arrived from out of town feeling really unwell with a bad cold. Stoic type, didn’t want to see a doctor. We couldn’t get him into any of our local GPs, so he went to Phillip medical centre.

He had to wait for 5 hours, and was told that he should not leave his seat at any time to go to the toilet, as if he lost his place in the queue he would have to start again as if he’d just walked in the door.

He ended up with some antibiotics for his severe bronchitis, and his cold got much worse over the next little while, making him wonder if he picked up some other wonder bug while waiting for 5 hours amongst Canberra’s coughing and sick people.

He should’ve really seen a dr again before flying home, but didn’t want to waste another entire day sitting in phillip med centre, so he flew home to see his own dr.

mdme workalot 10:04 am 06 Aug 08

Fair points here, however I’d just like to share my experience the last (and only) time I visited the Phillip Clinic. I’m not sure if it is the same Phillip Clinic referred to in this story, but anyhoo….

It was a Saturday night, I’d managed to break my foot and had initially decided to wait until the following day to try and get into a doctor. I did not want to go to Casualty at TCH because I figured there would be people there far more in need of medical attention than I (and I didn’t think my foot was as bad as it was). However, it got to nine o’clock and I was in a tremendous amount of pain and I rang Health First (love that service!!) who advised me that Phillip was open until ten and no appointments were necessary. I got someone to drive me there, and arrived at 9.30. There was two people waiting in the waiting room, but the doors were closed. A receptionist came over and informed me that the Centre was closed for the night. I said that Health First had informed me they were open until 10. She said that they were too busy and if I did come in, it would mean that one of the doctors would have to work past 10. By this point, I was getting quite cranky and told her to look at my f’ing foot (which by that point was severely swollen and had a metacarpal almost bursting through the skin) and she again advised that they were closed, and if I was in that much pain to go home and have a Panadol. At this point she locked the doors and walked away (which I don’t blame her for because I was getting quite upset).

The point of the story – I was very disappointed in the service, and although a broken foot is not life-threatening it is bloody painful and I think they should have seen me. If the service is primarily designed to deal with non-urgent injuries they should do that during their opening hours as advertised.

Sorry it’s a bit off-topic, but I just wanted to highlight my experience of what happens when they decide to develop these brand new ‘super’ medical centres.

happy 9:56 am 06 Aug 08

Yes,
the GPs do get given a payout at the start of the contract.
However they also take a substantial paycut working for the company (I would guess up to 45-55%).
This basically means, after the 5 year contract, they have less income compared to the same doctor who avoids the contract (at least the GPs at the WMP who do not do the 5 minute consultations to make up the difference)

pug206gti 9:52 am 06 Aug 08

Some of the arguments they put on Win news last night were at best predictable and otherwise borderline laughable. Where is the legless lizard when it needs a doctor’s appointment!

Woody Mann-Caruso 9:08 am 06 Aug 08

Having to drive five minutes up the road (or not, if you live north of Wanniassa) to see even more doctors has you ‘very very concerned for health services in the ACT’? Very very concerned? All health services? In the whole ACT? What were you being treated for, chronic perspective deprivation?

Your expectation that you will be able to see the same GP at a moment’s notice for the rest of your lives is grossly unrealistic. It’s a private business. You’re free to go elsewhere. Nobody owes you anything.

Suck.
It.
Up.

sepi 11:12 pm 05 Aug 08

I think they get the doctors to join by paying them a motza downpayment – nice if you are buying a house etc. They they are contracted to stay for 5 years.

This is how some medical companies work – not sure about this one.

johnboy 10:43 pm 05 Aug 08

But the more pain inflicted on them this time around the more careful they will be next time.

ant 10:39 pm 05 Aug 08

That place is run by a company with shareholders. Goodbye any notion of community interest or anything that doesn’t drive money into the pockets of shareholders. They don’t care! Government runs things for teh benefit of citizens. Companies exist to make money, and that’s all they do.

This mega-facility in Philip has had doctors from all over the place flocking to join it, so evidently it’s to be quite a big deal.

Pandy 10:38 pm 05 Aug 08

waste of effort. the deal is done.
don’t wanna see a doctor eh?

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