Bundy's diagnosis: enough GPs

TWO medical projects slated for the Bundaberg area have been left languishing in the waiting room because government figures indicate there are already enough general practitioners in the region.

The federal government's GP Super Clinic, promised by Kevin Rudd during a pre-election trip to Bundaberg in 2007, appears to have stalled, with no movement on the proposal even though the closing date for applications was back in February.

Private company Angaet Property Management has also been struggling to attract GPs to act as the centrepiece for its plans to transform Bundaberg Plaza into a healthcare zone.

“We are having difficulty engaging a medical centre as the feedback we are receiving is that Bundaberg has enough doctors,” property manager Tracy Warren said.

“Then we also have the locals saying that doctors in Bundaberg are not taking new patients.”

The start-up struggles affecting the public and private sector initiatives suggest that Bundaberg has enough GPs according to health industry standards.

The NewsMail contacted the Department of Health and Ageing about plans for the super clinic, but no new information was available.

In February the NewsMail reported there had been no local interest in operating the super clinic, with Sydney company Primary Heath Care the only known bid for the Bundaberg project.

GP Links Wide Bay and the Australian Medical Association of Queensland have also expressed concerns at the project and its effect on GPs.

Ms Warren said the hold-up on the GP Super Clinic was affecting Angaet's plan for the healthcare zone.

“One of the big corporate companies has advised that they are waiting for the results on the tenders with the super clinic before they can commence any negotiations and have commented that they don't know when this is going to happen and whether the government has the money,” she said.

GP Links Wide Bay chair Paul Neeskens said Bundaberg was not considered to be an area in need of GPs.

“From a population perspective there does seem to be enough GPs in the Bundaberg area,” he said.

Dr Neeskens said commonwealth guidelines say an area is only determined to be in need of GPs if it has more than about 1300 people per GP.

There are about 90 GPs in the area according to figures from GP Links Wide Bay meaning there are about 1026 patients per doctor.

The NewsMail spoke to a number of practices and some said they often had appointments available the same day, while others had no capacity for new patients and people may face a wait.

“We can usually get someone in within three to five days,” Burrum Street Medical Practice practice manager Carolyn Unwin said. “We are very busy but we do try to get patients in when we can.”

Aspire Medical Centre practice manager Dr Waseem Ahmed said: “Most days people can get in (for an appointment) the same day. Some days we are a little bit tight but normally we do keep a few slots open for emergency cases.”

Do you think there are enough GPs in the Bundaberg region? Why/why not? Leave your comments below...

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