FEDERAL Member for Page Janelle Saffin, left, with Federal Health Minister Nicola Roxon in Grafton on Tuesday.
FEDERAL Member for Page Janelle Saffin, left, with Federal Health Minister Nicola Roxon in Grafton on Tuesday. Debrah Novak

Super clinic for Grafton

FEDERAL Health Minister Nicola Roxon says she cannot promise a $5 million federally-funded GP super clinic, to be established in Grafton, will offer bulk billing.

At a public consultation on Tuesday night, the Minister said proposals that included a bulk-billing GP service would be prioritised over those that didn't, but there were no certainties.

Bulk billing was a hot topic at the consultation, with Ms Roxon fielding several questions and comments on the issue.

The Minister said she would ensure the community's need for bulk-billing GPs would be taken into consideration.

“It's obviously something that the community feels strongly about,” Ms Roxon said.

Other issues raised included the range of specialists to be offered by the clinic, with people asking if it would include services such as psychology and radiology.

Ms Roxon said services would be tailored to suit the region's needs and advised those tendering to run the super clinic to consider what services the community wanted, as it would play a part in the selection process.

Assistant secretary for GP Super Clinics Anne Thorpe said doctors based in the clinic could include specialists such as physiotherapists and podiatrists to psychiatrists, dieticians and paediatricians. There could also be scope for visiting specialists to be incorporated into the clinic.

Explaining how super clinics worked, Ms Thorpe said it would offer comprehensive health care in which specialists and GPs developed a health plan in consultation with each other.

All doctors and specialists connected with the super clinic would consult a shared medical file for each patient, providing a more integrated medical service, Ms Thorpe said.

More than 250 people attended the consultation at the Grafton District Services Club, making it the largest community consultation held in the country so far.

Ms Roxon and her team have been travelling to clinics around Australia to consult the 31 communities that will have GP super clinics rolled out to them over the next four years.

Attendees on Tuesday included local GPs and healthcare providers; residents with chronic health issues; representatives from the Aboriginal community; Federal Member for Page Janelle Saffin, and Clarence Valley Mayor Richie Williamson.

Cr Williamson said he supports the formation of a super clinic, but emphasised it needed to service all the Clarence Valley and not just Grafton.

He told Ms Roxon he hoped a proposal would be selected that operated on a 'hub and spoke' model, where a primary clinic based in Grafton was linked to satellite clinics in centres such as Yamba and Maclean.

Ms Roxon said the clinic was meant to supplement existing services and not replace them. That meant services such as the Aboriginal Medical Service would continue as usual.

But she emphasised the clinic could not meet all the community's needs. “It will not be all things to all people,” she said.

Ms Roxon said an invitation to apply to construct and operate the GP Super Clinic in Grafton will be released in two weeks time. Interested parties will have about six weeks to submit an application.

Any organisation or group can submit a proposal, including groups of local GPs; community groups; councils or existing healthcare providers.

Ms Roxon would not be drawn on when the clinic would open.

  •  People wanting to find out more about the GP Super Clinic, or what is required to submit a proposal, can go to www.health. gov.au/gpsuperclinics.

“ It will not be all things to all people.”

Nicola Roxon

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