Pro­fes­sion­als are try­ing to solve the prob­lem of peo­ple from dis­ad­van­taged back­grounds re­ceiv­ing poorer med­i­cal care

Mt Druitt - St Mary's Standard (East) - - NEWS - Elisha Pearce

A NEW re­port has found peo­ple from dis­ad­van­taged back­grounds in Mt Druitt and Black­town re­ceive poorer health care and face sig­nif­i­cant bar­ri­ers to cop­ing with chronic dis­eases.

How­ever, a band of flex­i­ble health pro­fes­sion­als are ex­per­i­ment­ing with new ways to pro­vide com­pre­hen­sive care where it is most needed.

Western Syd­ney Uni­ver­sity part­nered with Aus­tralian Na­tional Uni­ver­sity to look at how front­line health ser­vices cope in Black­town and Mt Druitt and what to do to im­prove the sit­u­a­tion.

The re­port found the area has some of the high­est rates of chronic dis­eases such as heart dis­ease, hy­per­ten­sion, asthma and type 2 di­a­betes.

It also found less time was spent with pa­tients from lower so­cio-eco­nomic back­grounds on top of gaps in health fund­ing that makes it less likely those peo­ple will seek health care.

Glen­den­ning GP Dr Hani Bit­tar, who was on a panel that helped in­form the re­port, said health ser­vices in the re­gion were “un­der­funded and un­der re­sourced”.

“There are two (gap) ar­eas: No.1 is men­tal health and No.2 is re­lated to body weight and di­a­betes or car­dio­vas­cu­lar,” Dr Bit­tar said.

Re­port au­thor and WSU De­part­ment of Gen­eral Prac­tice chair Pro­fes­sor Jenny Reath is a GP and has worked at the Mt Druitt Abo­rig­i­nal Med­i­cal Ser­vice on and off since 1987.

She said the cur­rent health sys­tem meant lo­cal GPs strug­gled to meet the needs of the community.

“It isn’t just health needs but com- plex ones such as men­tal health but also so­cioe­co­nomic dis­ad­van­tage,” she said. “They have prob­lems with trans­port, hous­ing and ac­cess­ing med­i­cal care you have to pay for.”

Dr Bit­tar’s prac­tice is try­ing to solve health prob­lems with in­no­va­tive ideas.

It is run­ning the Pa­tient Cen­tred Med­i­cal Home pro­gram which gives a holis­tic level of care: ac­cess to a GP, psy­chol­o­gist, ex­er­cise phys­i­ol­o­gist, di­eti­tian, phys­io­ther­a­pist and reg­is­tered nurses un­der the one roof.

Dr Bit­tar be­lieves this is the best way to man­age com­plex ill­ness but says fund­ing mod­els need to change to make it more vi­able.

“Be­cause a GP is the only per­son they can see for free they keep com­ing to us,” he said. “Medi­care doesn’t fo­cus on that prob­lem.”

Pic­ture: Peter Kelly

Dr Hani Bit­tar and psy­chol­o­gist Gil­lian Hawkins are run­ning a Pa­tient Cen­tred Med­i­cal Home pro­gram.

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