The Sunday Mail (Queensland)

HOME CALLS ABUSE

GPs con­cerned ‘free’ ser­vice is hit­ting taxpayers WAIKIKISTY­LE’S ALLTHEW AVE

- SA­MAN­THA MAIDEN NA­TIONAL PO­LIT­I­CAL EDITOR ALEXANDRIA UTTING

GEN­ERAL prac­ti­tion­ers have raised con­cerns over a boom­ing home doc­tor ser­vice pro­vid­ing “free” bulk-billed home vis­its af­ter 4pm that costs taxpayers up to $150 a con­sul­ta­tion.

The fly­ing squad of 600 GPs is pro­vid­ing home vis­its in Aus­tralia which de­liver big sav­ings to state gov­ern­ments.

Com­pared with the $400 to $500 es­ti­mated cost of an emer­gency visit, the GP’s come to the home for a frac­tion of the price but it is the Fed­eral Gov­ern­ment foot­ing the bill.

Chil­dren un­der age four and se­niors over age 85 are the big­gest users. Pa­tients are flock­ing to the ser­vices, with the Na­tional Home Doc­tor Ser­vice of­fer­ing 900,000 bulk billed GP vis­its “free” to pa­tients in the last year.

Be­cause the ser­vice only op­er­ates af­ter hours, GPs are paid a Medi­care fee of be­tween $127 and $150 to con­sult pa­tients at home and aged care fa­cil­i­ties. SPRING is just around the cor­ner and Queens­land de­signer Kirsten Beck says this sea­son’s swimwear look will be high-cut and cheeky.

The Tu­gun-based de­signer’s brand Molly & Polly will launch their a retro-inspired swimwear line – Get­ting Cheeky in Waikiki – later this month.

“It’s very retro with lots of hi­bis­cus flow­ers and pas­tels, which re­ally com­pli­ment that sum­mer glow,” Beck said.

“The col­lec­tion has re­ally taken in­spi­ra­tion from the USA and more girls here are want­ing to have that cheeky cut in the back of the brief of a bikini.”

That said, the full-piece cossie is still very much in.

“The full-piece is hot­ter than ever and I think our full-piece swim­suit, which is taken-in more on the sides, is just that bit more sexy than what peo­ple usu­ally think of when imag­in­ing a full-piece,” the 25-year-old said.

All Molly & Polly swimwear and leg­gings are 100 per cent Aus­tralian made. “We re­ally look at qual­ity over quan­tity when it comes to our swimwear and we know our cus­tomers don’t want to see 100 other girls at the beach wear­ing the same swim­suit,” Beck said.

Molly & Polly swimwear and leg­gings are avail­able online at mollyand­pollyswim.com.au.

This com­pares to a Medi­care re­bate as low as $36.30 for a stan­dard con­sul­ta­tion in a GP surgery.

But chair­man of the Aus­tralian Med­i­cal As­so­ci­a­tion’s Coun­cil of Gen­eral Prac­tice Dr Brian Mor­ton said the $150 af­ter hours Medi­care fee for home con­sults is de­signed for “ur­gent” cases only, pos­ing a grey area for doc­tors.

“It’s not free. It is paid for by all taxpayers and should be re

spected for that,” Dr Mor­ton said. “The is­sue that GPs get up­set with is some pa­tients are abus­ing the sys­tem. That’s the prob­lem with bulk billing, the pa­tient doesn’t have to put their hand in their pocket.”

The Aus­tralian Home Doc­tor Ser­vice ar­gues they use a triage sys­tem to as­sess pa­tients over the phone, di­vert­ing nonur­gent cases back to their GP.

“By far the big­gest share of pa­tients we see are un­der the care of some­one else. It’s the mother car­ing for young chil­dren or el­derly par­ents,” chair­man Paul Mirabelle said.

“We ac­tu­ally work in con­junc­tion with GPs. If it’s not ur­gent we re­di­rect pa­tients to their nor­mal GP.”

Ser­vic­ing Bris­bane, Ip­swich, the Gold and Sun­shine Coasts, Toowoomba, Syd­ney, Mel­bourne, Gee­long, Ade­laide, Can­berra, Shep­par­ton and Launce­s­ton the Na­tional Home Doc­tor Ser­vice is hugely pop­u­lar with par­ents with young chil­dren and se­niors who need af­ter-hours care.

Health Min­is­ter Sus­san Ley said it was help­ful ser­vices were look­ing to pro­vide after­hours care but she would be dis­ap­pointed if some were “gam­ing the sys­tem”.

“It’s im­por­tant Aus­tralians have di­rect ac­cess to face-to­face af­ter hours med­i­cal ser­vices no mat­ter where they live and we are de­liv­er­ing in­cen­tives to im­prove that,” Ms Ley said.

“How­ever … we ex­pect health pro­fes­sion­als to de­liver them when the pa­tient needs them not at a time that de­liv­ers the best fi­nan­cial re­ward.”

 ??  ?? CHEEKY: Ella van Seters and Mar­tine Sjor­bot­ten chill out in Molly & Polly swimwear. Pic­ture: Luke Mars­den
CHEEKY: Ella van Seters and Mar­tine Sjor­bot­ten chill out in Molly & Polly swimwear. Pic­ture: Luke Mars­den

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia