Covering the Goulburn and Murray valleys

Shepparton After-Hours Medical Clinic to close

Due to increased GP workload and declining number of member clinics, Shepparton After-Hours Medical Clinic will stop operating at the end of the month.

ESTELLE GRIEPINK August 27, 2014 3:37am

Wyndham St’s Shepparton After-Hours Medical Clinic will close its doors at the end of this month.

Goulburn Valley Medicare Local chief executive Soenke Tremper said the primary health care organisation had decided to end the clinic’s services because of the increasing workload on the declining number of member clinics.

Since 2002, the clinic has operated as a co-operative with GPs from Shepparton, Mooroopna, Tatura, Murchison, Nagambie and Euroa working to provide after-hours services.

‘‘Over the years there has been a strong decline in attendances with far fewer patients, and because only five member clinics remain the burden on individual clinics became quite high,’’ he said.

‘‘We paid for the GPs contributing to this service, but with fewer patients coming through the cost became too substantial.’’

Mr Tremper said the decision to close the clinic had been ‘‘very difficult’’ for all concerned.

He believed the decline in presentations came partly from the increase in practices providing after-hours services and from the fact the After-Hours Medical Clinic did not offer bulk-billing.

Goulburn Valley Medicare Local funds 10 of the 14 local practices that provide after-hours services and is working constructively with service providers to make sure there are other avenues for patients to seek medical help. Most local general practices have arrangements in place to assist their own patients after hours.

Goulburn Valley Health chief executive Dale Fraser said while the After-Hours Medical Clinic closure was disappointing, he encouraged people to continue to visit their local GP for general medical attention.

‘‘We also recommend people proactively manage their health by getting regular check-ups at their local clinic and talk to clinicians about their after-hours arrangements,’’ Mr Fraser said.

Mr Tremper said an expression of interest to manage and operate the After-Hours Clinic from September 1 was sent out to all practices in the Greater Shepparton area, but there were no responses.

He said Goulburn Valley Medicare Local was still eager to hear from interested parties.

Anyone who needs after-hours medical care should phone the After Hours GP Helpline on 1800022222, or in the event of emergency, phone 000. People may also attend Goulburn Valley Health’s emergency department on Graham St, Shepparton.

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