Doctor numbers key in Tristar debate
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.