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Ochre Health defends appointment booking system

Several locals have complained about the appointment system at the new Deniliquin Medical Centre.

JESS EVERINGHAM December 12, 2012 4:45am

Ochre Health has defended its controversial patient booking system used at the new Deniliquin Medical Centre.

Ochre general manager Maureen Thornhill said its system was ‘‘normal practise right across Australia’’.

The Pastoral Times has received several complaints regarding the system which, in most cases, only allows patients to book same-day appointments.

If appointments for the day have been filled, it is believed patients are asked to ring back the following day. Forward bookings can only be made under certain circumstances.

One local woman, who wished to remain anonymous, contacted the Pastoral Times to raise her concerns.

She said she had tried to make an appointment that day, but had been told to ring back the next morning.

She said it was frustrating when all she wanted to do was book an appointment for several weeks’ time to have a doctor sign a form.

Another man said he rang the centre seven times one morning but the line was busy. When he did get through he was told all appointments were full and that he would have to try again tomorrow.

Ochre Health downplayed concerns about its systems.

Ms Thornhill said the appointment system in place allows people who are sick to be seen that day.

She also said there were certain cases where appointments could be forward-booked.

However, she would not detail the specifics of how the booking system works.

Ms Thornhill also refuted speculation that local patients could no longer request to see their usual doctor.

However, if that doctor is heavily booked, patients will be given the option of seeing another GP, she explained.

‘‘It’s up to personal choice if they take that appointment (with a different GP) or they don’t,’’ she said.

‘‘The aim is to see the doctor of your choice.’’

Ochre Health manages the Deniliquin Medical Centre, which was opened in October.

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