The super flexible GP clinic
IT'S JUST as well the Federal Government says it can be flexible when it comes to GP super clinics, because local GP Network chiefs Tony Lembke and Chris Clark want Lismore's one contorting like a circus freak.
Parliamentary Secretary for Health, Mark Butler, yesterday announced Lismore would get $7 million for a super clinic.
In a statement released yesterday, Mr Butler said the clinic would be put out to competitive tender.
However, Ms Saffin said she wanted it put out for ‘expressions of interest' so the Government could tailor the clinic to a plan developed by the Northern Rivers General Practice Network.
GP Network chairman Tony Lembke and chief executive Chris Clark want to use the money to set up a different sort of super clinic from the typical ‘one-stop shop' usually associated with the idea.
They wanted to use the defunct Lismore Private Hospital, in McKenzie Street, for the clinic. How-ever, as well as people being able to visit the clinic for things such as out-of-hours GP services, they said they wanted it to act as a base for a range ofallied health services that would connect directly with existing GP clinics across the Northern Rivers.
Details were a long way from being finalised – the GP Network has yet to even lodge a formal submission – but they estimated the clinic would employ somewhere between 30 and 40 people.
The idea was that if you lived in, for example, Casino, and you went to your local GP who decided you needed to see a dietician, they would have a super clinic dietician who made regular visits to their surgery and you could simply return on the day the dietician was booked to visit.
At the same time the clinic would host a range of other services, such as community nurses, home care workers and Meals-on-Wheels, who could go out and visitpeople in their homes,ultimately helping to keep them healthier and out of hospital.
That strategy, in particular, fitted neatly with the North Coast Area Health Service's long-term strategy of managing healthcare by trying to create a healthier community.
As to the resident GP services typically found at GP super clinics, Mr Lembke and Mr Clark said they would consider a rota of local doctors to provide after-hours GP services at the clinic.
The model proposed by the network is a fair way from the typical model of GP super clinics built so far around the country. However, Mr Lembke and Mr Clark said the fact there was already a building in place meant the $7 million would go a lot further than in other places.
Ongoing wages, like those at more mundane super clinics, would be covered by Medicare.
Critically, the network's plan has strong backing from Ms Saffin.
“We have an organisation here that is nationally recognised. We have a building here that can be used,” she said. “We know what we want.”
Asked whether the Government could accommodate a super clinic that veered from the norm, Mr Butler said it could be ‘flexible'.
Hopefully it can be flexible enough.