A NEW bulk-billing clinic is set to open in Grafton Shoppingworld and is ready to alleviate long waiting times and booked-out GPs.
O Plus Health will be the first bulk-billing medical clinic in Grafton and will incorporate a general health clinic alongside a Coastal Skin Cancer and Medical Clinic so Grafton skin cancer patients will not need to travel to Coffs Harbour anymore.
Grafton local Bernadette Trela said the need for a bulk-billing clinic in Grafton was extremely high, with doctors becoming so hard to visit and some even saying they can't take on any more new patients.
"I have only recently returned to Grafton to live, after spending majority of my life in Sydney," Ms Trela said. "But when it comes to choosing a doctor to go to, I really don't know where to start. My family's doctor is fully booked out and won't be able to take me on. Only recently, I chose to travel back to my doctor in Darlinghurst because it is what I'm used to and I honestly don't know where to start looking in Grafton.
"I guess I'm so accustomed to Sydney where we have walk-in clinics that are open 24 hours a day and offer bulk billing. I guess country people are at a disadvantage without those kinds of clinics."
However, this is about to change with O Plus Health opening up the first bulk-billing medical clinic in Grafton.
I guess country people are at a disadvantage without those kinds of clinics.
Project consultant for O Plus Health Stacy Kambouris is excited about the opportunity that the clinic has to service the people in Grafton and says one of the clinic's first duties is to shave waiting times for doctors.
"We are opening this clinic because we saw the opportunity," Mr Kambouris said. "It's a great location, servicing a lot of people and we had a doctor who was ready and willing to join us."
"The aim of the clinic will be to solve the issue of long waiting lists. We plan to open slowly and find out what services the people of Grafton are in need of and will ensure we implement doctors and specialists to complement those needs."
The first doctor to join the clinic is Dr Palani Kuppusamy from Grafton Base Hospital and formerly the Coastal Skin Cancer Clinic in Coffs Harbour.
Dr Kuppusamy has been living in the Clarence Valley for several years now and is in tune with the local people and their health needs.
It makes health accessible to low income earners.
"This idea has been in the pipeline for at least a year and we have been working with locals, gaining their advice on what is needed in Grafton and implementing that," Mr Kambouris said.
Ms Trela said that the need for a bulk-billing medical centre in Grafton is so high because people are forgoing medical support due to monetary costs.
"It makes health accessible to low income earners," she said.
"If people have to pay a lot of money to go to the clinic they won't go because they can't afford it.
"You just don't want people to go without medical."