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HSU Calls for GP clinics and Extra Beds08 January 2004
The Health Services Union has called for the rollout of GP clinics and additional hospital beds across the country to help ease demand in hospital emergency departments.
HSU national secretary Craig Thomson said that there was clear evidence that patients with minor injuries or illnesses were coming in increasing number to emergency departments as bulk-billing rates declined and it became harder and more expensive to find a GP who worked after-hours.
The NSW Government is proposing that after hours GP clinics be established in or near some public hospitals with recurrent funding provided by the Commonwealth Government.
Services would be provided free of charge to patients.
The proposed hospital sites are Concord, Shoalhaven, Manly, Wyong, Ryde, Auburn, Hornsby, Blue Mountains, St George, Nepean, Fairfield, Sutherland and Prince of Wales.
The move comes after the successful trial of a clinic in Maitland hospital.
The GP's saw 10,000 patients in the first year and the number of patients with minor ailments using the emergency department dropped by 60 per cent.
"This is a start and a worthwhile initiative that should be supported and expanded into other states," Mr Thomson said.
"But what members are saying across the country is that it is extra beds are also needed in hospitals to send patients to after they are treated in emergency departments.
"On too many occasions emergency departments are becoming wards and getting clogged with patients because of a lack of beds."
HSU leaders including Mr Thomson and NSW branch secretary Michael Williamson called on the Federal Health Minister Tony Abbott to support GP clinics during a meeting late last year.
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