General practice changes
We are told a growing number of overseas trained doctors who have served out their rural term are now migrating to metro Perth to set up practice. Some are targeting areas of need, which means practices for sale in these areas now have a market, whereas they were previously ‘walk away’ for any doctor retiring. Another change going begging in general practice is the sub-specialisation of GPs. Nurse practitioners will be taking the role as government tries to target preventive health amongst consumers in a productive way (read: keep people out of hospitals), whether diabetes care, lipid clinics, or whatever.
Dr Kim Hames has announced Serco Australia has the facilities management contract for Fiona Stanley Hospital, worth $4.3b over 20 years. Serco may ring a bell with the company’s management of Australia’s immigration detention centres (notably, Christmas Island) coming under the spotlight. Kim’s crystal ball proclamation of “outstanding care and greater choices” for patients when Serco takes Fiona’s reins in 2014 roughly coincided with the Commonwealth Ombudsman’s launched investigation into the sharp rise in suicide and self-harm in Serco-run detention centres, with close attention being paid to the corporation’s methods.
Pilbara Health Network has signed on to run the $7m GP Super Clinic in Karratha, joining existing Super Clinics at Wanneroo, Midland, and Cockburn. New GP Super Clinics are expected for Rockingham ($7m) and Northam ($3m). On the other side of the country, WA-based Kinetic Health Group has signed on to run the Mt Isa Super Clinic in Queensland. Why is this news? The Mt Isa Super Clinic was announced in 2007, but the local GP Network said it was underfunded and pulled out of the contract (citing an inability to find a suitable location and premises for just $2.5m), and a subsequent $5m tender failed. Fingers crossed for Kinetic!
Bunbury is becoming a major regional medical force, with government sharing tasks with SJOG Bunbury in a ‘partnership’ that seems to put Royalties for Regions to good use but has others uneasy about the influence of Catholicism on end-of-life decisions. A dual funded Coronary Care Unit at SJOG Bunbury will serve both public and private patients, with an associated angiography service. The Catholic operation has started running the public radiotherapy’s service and has access to $23.5m Commonwealth funds to build a cancer centre. South West folk are to be serviced regionally, with (hopefully) more specialists as well as GPs attracted to the area.