Backflip on closure of Friendlies after-hours
THE Friendlies After-hours Medical Service will remain open after stakeholders and local GPs worked together to establish a model to be trialled for six months.
Friendly Society Hospital director of clinical services Sue Day said since the announcement last month that the service was to close on October 31, GPs and stakeholders had been working behind the scenes to establishing a weekend and public holiday roster.
"Everyone is thrilled the service our community has relied on over the past nine years can continue during hours of need on weekends and public holidays," she said.
"The support from the GP community has been very positive, which has enabled a new GP-based model to be trialled over the next six months."
Ms Day said the plan was to build a "robust and sustainable" after-hours service for Bundaberg into the future.
"While the days of operation will be reduced from that of the past nine years, it is still a far better outcome than the alternative of no after-hours GP service at all," she said.
The announcement last month, that the after-hours service was shutting its doors, sent shockwaves through the community with Wide Bay Health chief Dominic Devine concerned the lack of an after-hours facility could lead to an increase of non-urgent patients to the Bundaberg Hospital Emergency Ward.
Wide Bay Medicare Local CEO Shane Dawson said his organisation facilitated a meeting of Bundaberg Practice owners on Thursday night, representing 36 local GPs, to identify a solution to the imminent closure of Friendly Hospital's after-hours service.
"GPs agreed that more time was needed to identify and work with a variety of stakeholders to develop a sustainable, flexible and financially viable after-hours model for the community," he said.
Mr Dawson said another group of GPs was planning to provide an alternative, bulk-billing after-hours service, at another location in the near future to give residents further options.
"Wide Bay Medicare Local is providing incentive payments directly to practices who offer after-hours services to their patients, including GPs participating in the Friendlies roster," he said.