Ballarat's GP numbers higher than ever, Base Hospital patients decrease

BALLARAT’S health care is in good stead after it was revealed this week doctor numbers are higher than ever, while the Ballarat Base Hospital has experienced a decrease in patient numbers. 

Grampians Medicare Local research shows there are currently 130 general practitioners in Ballarat, compared with 115 two years ago. 

Grampians Medicare Local chief executive officer Andrew McPherson said there had never been more doctors in Ballarat, adding there had been a misconception among Ballarat residents there weren’t enough doctors. 

“And we expect these numbers to be maintained for the long term,” Mr McPherson said. 

“It’s important now for people without a regular family doctor to seek out practices that are accepting new patients.”

Meanwhile, Ballarat Health Services (BHS) revealed during the week that the emergency department had recorded a decrease in patients, compared with last year. 

BHS spokesman Daniel Anderson said the 1.73 per cent decrease was in the lower triage categories four and five. 

Mr Anderson said higher triage categories had recorded an increase in numbers.

It came as news outlets reported during the week that the Abbott government was considering a proposal to charge people attending emergency departments with minor complaints such as common colds and stubbed toes. 

The proposal would come as part of the possible introduction of a $6 Medicare co-payment. 

“Applying a $6 payment may discourage some of the most needy and vulnerable from accessing care which in turn could drive people to emergency departments,” Mr McPherson said.

BHS is encouraging people with minor ailments to see their general practitioner and only present to emergency if urgent medical treatment is required.

patrick.byrne@fairfaxmedia.coma.u

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