Response to NGSC Motion

Grampians Health Stawell has not ‘cut’ the pay of existing doctors at the Stawell Medical Centre:

In fact, we have increased the fee share to doctors to a rate that is at or above the standard for regional Victoria. This means that a higher percentage or portion of the fees collected from patient consultations, treatments, or procedures is allocated to the doctors providing the services. In other words, the doctors receive a larger share of the revenue generated from the healthcare services they deliver.

The result of our change in wage structure means we are now able to offer competitive wages and attract and retain medical professionals. This decision has improved wages rather than decreasing them, fostering stability and quality care.  

Grampians Health Stawell does understand the difficulty of attracting doctors to work in Stawell:

Currently, there are long term and well-respected locum GPs employed at the Medical Centre, and we thank them for their ongoing dedication to healthcare in the community.

We are well aware of how difficult it can be to attract new staff to the region, and we have strong recruitment campaigns well underway (in Australia and overseas). We are engaging with professionals who believe Stawell would be a good fit for them, and we are assessing applications to ensure we are able to find professionals who are a good fit for the community.

Many of us prefer to see the same doctor each time we require care, and this is a preference we hope to elevate in coming months, with the careful recruitment of new doctors.       

Stawell does have enough doctors to service the population, and getting an appointment within 24-48hrs is now possible:

The Stawell Medical Centre staffing level is the highest it has been since the service transferred to the hospital in 2012. The clinic now regularly has times slots for urgent same day reviews and also next day appointment availability.

Each day, the centre is staffed by qualified and credentialled health professionals who are well supported by nursing and administrative staff. The increase in available appointments has increased the community’s ability to access a GP locally in a timely way.

To further support the community in accessing timely care, we have removed the fees for attending the neighboring Urgent Care Centre at Stawell hospital, and for having an x-ray. Both of these decisions have made access to the right care and right technology far easier and they have saved the community close to $0.5 million in the past year alone. Interestingly, the Urgent Care Centre has also seen its highest number of presentations, this year.   

The Stawell Hospital is still thriving, and offering surgeries:

At no stage since the formation of Grampians Health has surgery ceased at the Stawell Hospital. Surgical activity from January to June 2023 mirrors January to June 2022.

Each day we have surgery lists that we work on – and as of yesterday, there are only three lists for the month of August that are not completely full in Stawell. Safe and effective care closer to home is our overarching goal. We have a fully qualified anaesthetist (FANZCA) working every Thursday and Friday which increases the complexity of patients that can be safely operated on in Stawell. Additionally, there is now a designated on-site doctor during the day, which was not previously the case.

Surgeries performed each week include: endoscopies, orthopaedic surgery, gastroenterological, gynaecological, ophthalmological, and ear, nose and throat surgeries.

Planning works are already well underway so that next year the second operating theatre will also be in use. This will effectively double the surgical capacity in Stawell.

Patients who have had surgeries cancelled have not been provided a suitable alternative

Grampians Health follows the direction of the State Health Department to treat patients based on clinical triage classification. This ensures that those patients with the most urgent or highest need are treated ahead of those with less urgent needs. The Stawell Hospital is a public hospital which prioritises care for public patients based on this doctrine.

Last year, Grampians Health made the decision to suspend the operating privileges of a visiting surgeon, and this decision was not made lightly.  All affected public patients were reassessed by Grampians Health, and reassigned a triage categorisation, in line with the direction of the State Health Department.  We continue to work with patients to transfer their care to other surgeons.

Patient safety is always our first and foremost consideration, and there were limitations to the complexity of surgeries that could be performed in Stawell safely, at that point in time.    

Councillor Haswell’s motion fails to acknowledge the many great things unfolding at Grampians Health Stawell.

Regrettably, Councillor Haswell’s motion fails to acknowledge the many great things unfolding at Grampians Health Stawell. Including:

  • the reintroduction of nursing students and the expansion of nursing traineeships, providing local students and nurses with a supported career path in Stawell.
  • successful re-accreditation of our aged care facility – MacPherson Smith Care Community – achieving a 4-star rating from the Commonwealth government, in line with rigorous new requirements for aged care service provision.
  • expansion of local cancer services, which provides significant reduced travel burden for residents with a cancer diagnosis.
  • increased on-site medical care at the hospital, enabling us to treat and care for more people locally without the need for referral to larger centres.
  • Allied health activity has increased across services such as exercise physiology and group programs.

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