Doc­tor num­bers key in Tris­tar de­bate

The Weekly Advertiser Horsham - - News -

Peo­ple across the re­gion have ev­ery right to feel more than a lit­tle con­fused and anx­ious while fol­low­ing sto­ries in­volv­ing Tris­tar Med­i­cal Group.

Me­dia out­lets have been prob­ing for greater clarity about the com­pany’s well-pub­li­cised fi­nan­cial bat­tles, rais­ing is­sues in­clud­ing ac­cu­sa­tions of de­lay­ing pay­ments to con­tracted doc­tors.

The com­pany, which spe­cialises in pro­vid­ing bulk-billing gen­eral-prac­ti­tioner ser­vices in re­gional and un­der-ser­viced ar­eas and has its head­quar­ters

in Mil­dura, has re­sponded with fur­ther ex­pla­na­tions of its cir­cum­stance.

We’re un­sure of where it is all head­ing.

The rea­son this story has cap­tured so much public at­ten­tion is be­cause at its foun­da­tion there is an un­der­ly­ing is­sue much more se­ri­ous than a com­pany’s re­la­tion­ship with its con­trac­tors.

Of all the es­sen­tial-ser­vice is­sues that con­tin­u­ally stick up their head in ru­ral and re­gional Aus­tralia, the avail­abil­ity of doc­tors would be at or near the top of the list.

And in our part of the world Tris­tar pro­vides pri­vate bulk-billing GP ser­vices in Ararat, Hor­sham, Kaniva, Minyip, Mur­toa, Nhill, Ru­pa­nyup and War­rackn­abeal.

Re­gional med­i­cal clin­ics, pri­vate or oth­er­wise, have had to work ridicu­lously hard to at­tract doc­tors and it seems ser­vices are only ever as good un­til the next de­par­ture.

It is a sys­tem that ap­pears in dire need of some more long-term in­surance plan­ning.

We have heard plenty of ar­gu­ments for and against as­pects of the Tris­tar model, but it is a model that has seem­ingly filled a crit­i­cal role.

We have to ask our­selves – if the Tris­tar model can’t work, then what can?

Im­por­tantly, when a ser­vice di­rectly in­volves health and well­be­ing needs of Australian­s, it is up to govern­ments to en­sure all checks and bal­ances are in place, that there is room for work­ing sys­tems to adapt and to en­sure there is an ad­e­quate back-up re­place­ment.

We un­der­stand public con­fu­sion and also a lack of con­fi­dence peo­ple might have in au­thor­i­ties or pri­vate enterprise to find some­thing bet­ter or as good if Tris­tar was to dis­ap­pear off the radar.

The bot­tom line is that re­gard­less of where we live in Aus­tralia, and es­pe­cially Vic­to­ria where there is no le­git­i­mate tyranny of dis­tance, we all need ap­pro­pri­ate ac­cess to doc­tors.

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