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GP “busier” since rival clinic opened

Friday, 4th April, 2014

By Andrew Robertson

A GP with a surgery in the town square claims his practice has been busier since the Super Clinic opened in December.

Dr Ramu Nachiappan said that several patients had requested their files from his practice so they could move to the new $7 million clinic.

But he said that, overall, the practice hadn’t experienced any drop-off in patients. In fact, it had seen the opposite.

“For some reason my practice has been busier since the (Super Clinic) opened its new premises. I am uncertain as to the reason for this,” Dr Nachiappan told the BDT.

Federally-funded Super Clinics aim to improve primary health care services by bringing together a range of providers under the one roof.

Funding for more than 60 Super Clinics was pledged by Labor ahead of the 2007 election but, almost seven years later, only 39 are open.

A further 14 are still under construction and 11 have not been started.

Broken Hill owners Dr Ros Menzies and Dr Funmi Komolafe have said their clinic will attract more doctors and specialists to town, reducing demand on the hospital.

But Dr Nachiappan, whose practice also bid for the right to build the clinic, said most general practices now offered similar ‘one-stop-shop’ models.

“My practice has three allied health services on site and (is) co-located with a pharmacist,” he said. 

“We have appointments from 8am until 7.30pm. We offer flu vaccines at a local pharmacy for the non-chronically ill to reduce the burden on General Practices. 

“The majority of our doctors and all the allied health practitioners bulk bill all their patients.

“However, the GPSC has had a significant amount of publicity from the project which some in town may be attracted to.

“I do not believe that they offer a greater service when compared to other Broken Hill practices.” 

Dr Nachiappan said two more doctors had joined his practice this week bringing to seven the total number of practitioners working from his surgery. 

“Both the new doctors will bulk bill all their patients and continue the Nachiappan Surgery ethos of ‘enabling access to all’ in primary health care to our community.”

Another surgery owner also said the Super Clinic had not affected her business which continued to offer more services.

Dr Biljana Trask, who owns the Williams Street Surgery, said it now had a clinical psychologist along with four doctors and a registrar.   

“Broken Hill has not had a resident clinical psychologist for years, and having one on a permanent basis is a real asset to us and to our town,” Dr Trask said.

She said Barratt and Smith Pathology had been working from her premises since November last year and a sonographer was providing ultrasound services on a fortnightly basis.

“So we are providing at least comparable services to the Super Clinic.

“We continue to provide late night and same day appointments for patients and after Easter we will be opened every Saturday as well.

“So really, we have been providing a range of services for some time.

“The only difference is that we have invested ours, and not taxpayers’ money, in our business.

“We have noticed no change in the dynamics and we continue having a steady influx of new patients.”

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