Imagine experiencing sudden stomach pains, accompanied by vomiting and irregular bowel movement. It’s 1 am and your GP is closed for the day. Rather than self-medicating or rushing to the nearest emergency room, most citizens opt for dialing their Brisbane after hours doctor. To many people, it’s more convenient and efficient, and it has definitely saved lives hundreds of times.
However, the Australian government has submitted a proposal that cuts Medicare rebates for after hours doctors. This means that after hours clinics may have to cut corners and remove services to stay in business. If you benefited from the convenience brought about by after hours clinics, here’s how this new proposal will affect you.
The After Hours Hotline
Before discussing what the new proposal is all about, let us first take look at how after hours general practice works. If a person is starting to feel symptoms and is feeling sick, instead of going to the hospital, they can call the after hours hotline. An accredited nurse will answer, and will get necessary information about the patient and their symptoms. An after hours doctor will call soon after to give the diagnosis and advise the patient on what to do next.
After hours clinics offer a variety of services, depending on what the patient needs. They have after hours pharmacies, and they can call a hospital in advance to let them know you’re coming in case the need arises. The GP can also conduct a home visit in certain cases, and if it’s an emergency, they can even call an ambulance for you. See more here SmartClinics
These clinics have done their job well in saving lives. However, since this novel idea has benefited people, more citizens are turning to their friendly Brisbane after hours doctor instead of going to the emergency room. As such, the annual cost for the entire industry has grown $245.9 million. Of course, experts in the industry explain that this huge spike in cost is due to the rapid expansion of the now popular service. However, the spike has worried government officials, which is why the proposal was drafted.
Medical Rebate Limits
Some services of after hours doctors, such as home visits, are funded by Medicare. The proposal to cut down funding for Medicare-funded services will not mean the end of after hours medical centers, but will mean the removal of home visits, which is a significant part of an after hours clinic’s service. The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners has approved the cut, saying that nowadays, most patients prefer home visits by a Brisbane after hours doctor to the continuous care of a regular GP, which is dangerous to their health.
Industry leaders are calling for the rejection of this new proposal. According to them, the after hours industry saves lives and offers convenience for homebound patients and the elderly. According to experts, most emergency rooms are filled with people with minor illnesses and as such, people with real emergencies often have to wait instead of being attended to immediately. With after hours services, minor illnesses are dealt with over the phone, so that emergency rooms can be used for emergencies only.
There is no doubt in anyone’s mind that after hours clinics benefit those who are in dire need of immediate medical attention, and this new proposal might disable something that only aims to do good for the people. With the removal of after hours home visits, the people who will suffer the most are the disabled, the elderly, and the homebound caretakers. Hopefully, the government will see the industry’s huge spending as an indication of how in-demand it is, and back it up with more support rather than curtailing it.