LONG queues in the Warrnambool Base Hospital emergency department could be cut dramatically after the launch of a new GP clinic based inside the recently completed $26 million facility.
The first patient was treated in the brand new clinic yesterday, marking the final service to move into the huge South West Healthcare (SWH) complex.
At least 25,094 people were treated in the hospital’s emergency department in the past 12 months, with a significant number of those seeking treatment because their own GP clinic was booked out.
A team of six full-time general practitioners are expected to take up consulting at the centre to ease the “unrelenting demand” on the emergency department.
At the moment, there are three GPs working part-time with a small team of support staff from 9am to 5pm at the new medical centre.
SWH chief executive officer John Krygger said the clinic would also address a shortage of GPs across Warrnambool.
“Most GPs are significantly overbooked — there’s sometimes several weeks before you can get in,” Mr Krygger said.
“The waiting times in the emergency department have been a concern for some time and there’ll be a reduction as a result of this new service.
“Eventually we want to extend our hours of operation into the evening.”
Consulting rooms will also serve as a training ground for medical students nearby at the hospital and Mr Krygger said he hoped the collaboration with Deakin University would future proof the region against a drought of doctors. “It will act the same way as any other clinic in town,” he said.
Pensioners and patients on a low income health care card will be eligible for bulk billing. It is the first time South West Healthcare has run a GP clinic.