To our valued Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Community,
This notice is to advise you about the circumstances surrounding general practitioners at Eleanor Duncan Aboriginal Health Clinic at Wyong.
We are aware that our community is becoming understandably frustrated with the lack of available appointments.
At present, we have the equivalent of one full time GP to meet the patient demand of just under 4,000. This is both unrealistic and not sustainable.
The Board and CEO wish to advise that we have done everything within our capability to recruit additional full time GPs and we have been actively advertising vacant positions since July of this year.
Due to The Department of Health, The Royal Australian College of General Practice and other governing bodies that prescribe where and how doctors can work across the country, we have been unsuccessful.
We have pushed our issue to Federal, State and Local Government representatives to review the restrictions and rules about getting doctors to join our team here at Eleanor Duncan, however, this has been met with barriers and excuses.
Furthermore, the Central Coast is not deemed an area that attracts exemptions under the Department of Health District Workforce Shortage System. This is a policy and procedure that identifies and addresses the distribution of the medical workforces in Australia. We have been informed that our area has ‘enough’ general practitioners. The distribution of doctors is outside of our control.
We completely understand why you are frustrated, angry and concerned, but we ask that you consider our current situation and where possible use an alternative GP service until we can get additional GP’s to keep up with the patient load and to keep our patients safe, healthy and happy. Our other teams will continue to work with clients and patients that access other GP services.
At this stage, we will only offer appointments to patients that are requested as urgent by our GPs – no new appointments or re-appointments will be made until further notice.
Our reception staff have a list of alternative GP services (which can be viewed online here) and we also have our Eleanor Duncan outreach clinic based at Nunyara in Gosford every Tuesday and Thursday.
We encourage you to join us in campaigning to our Members of Parliament to express your concern for the lack of GPs in our Aboriginal Health Service. Please feel free to write a letter to our local members as well as the Minister for Health, Greg Hunt to highlight this situation.
On behalf of the Yerin Eleanor Duncan Aboriginal Health Services Board of Directors and CEO, we appreciate your understanding and cooperation.
If you would like send a letter to your local Member of Parliament, urging them to take action, please feel free to use our letter template, which can be copied from the below.
[Address line 1]
7th December 2018
Dear [insert name of MP]
I write to raise significant concerns that I hold regarding the lack of general practitioners available to join the Yerin Eleanor Duncan Primary Health Care team located at Wyong, New South Wales Central Coast. And the significant impact this is having on the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Community.
There is approximately 12,500 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people living on the Central Coast, Darkinjung country, given Yerin Eleanor Duncan Aboriginal Health Service provides primary health care to 33% of the total population, it is extremely worrying that the continued restrictions around the allocation of medical work force to Aboriginal communities is not being adequately dealt with.
The Governments commitment to ‘closing the gap’ is being hindered by ridiculous rules and regulations, particularly when applying mechanisms such as District of Workforce Shortage, the time it takes to obtain provider numbers and the allocation of registrars. Furthermore, whilst our primary health care centre is exempt under 19AB, the online registration system for general practitioners that have caveats placed on them, restricts progress and can take up to 6 months to apply to work in Aboriginal Health.
In order to achieve true self-determination and decision making across all levels of health, additional provisions to place general practitioners in Aboriginal Medical Services must be implemented.
Without urgent action and placement of general practitioners at the Yerin Eleanor Duncan Aboriginal Centre to be able to keep up with the growing Aboriginal population on the Central Coast, the government is merely repeating past policies and procedures that continue to widen the health disparity gap.
[person sign off]