Page 2968 - Week 07 - Thursday, 30 June 2011

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Health Co-op to support this model as well as explore new models of primary healthcare delivery, which we have done and will continue to do so. The government and the Health Directorate continue to work with, and provide support to, interested parties who wish to explore or develop primary healthcare practices in the ACT. Indeed my office and I have met with a number of primary healthcare organisations regarding their plans to establish new practices in the ACT, and I am very happy to offer what support I can in these circumstances.

At this time, the government has not been approached by any organisations interested in establishing a community-based model similar to West Belconnen Health Co-op. However, the government is supportive of exploring options for new and innovative models of primary healthcare delivery and is open to such approaches should they occur.

In past years, the government and the Health Directorate have established new services using new models of primary healthcare in order to help meet the primary healthcare needs of the community. The budget in 2009-10 included $2.157 million for the construction of the walk-in-centre at the Canberra Hospital. This has been operating for over a year now and has proved very popular with the ACT community, with a total of 15,760 presentations to the end of May 2011.

The newly-established GP aged day service is another new primary healthcare delivery model funded by government. The service commenced in March 2011 and supports people who are homebound or in residential aged care facilities when their GP is unable to make house calls.

A major challenge to the provision of affordable and accessible primary healthcare to the ACT community is not only about looking at new models of care but is also strongly influenced by the national and local GP shortage. The government has funded, and continues to progress, a number of initiatives to address the GP workforce shortages in the ACT. The ACT government has provided funding for a marketing and support officer to work in partnership with the Division of General Practice to address workforce shortages.

Since May 2008, through the GP workforce program, 31 GPs have commenced, three are confirmed to start in the next six months and up to seven may commence later this year. Thirty-two area-of-need authorisations have been approved, 14 are expected to be filled this year through private practice, which would contribute another 14 GPs to the ACT, and collaboration with the live in Canberra team has resulted in representation of GP vacancies at a number of national and international expos, increasing awareness of Canberra’s GP shortage. The government agreed or agreed in principle to all of the recommendations made by the GP task force in its final report and remains actively progressing recommendations.

There is also evidence of new primary healthcare organisations showing an interest in the ACT. I am pleased to be officiating at the formal opening of the new Ochre Health General Practice at the Calwell shopping centre this weekend, with the support of Nick Tsoulias and the active community lobby group Doctors 4 Tuggeranong. This is a great outcome for Calwell and one that has come from the ground up and will see a

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