EXCLUSIVE: After-hours GP clinic at Midland hospital to close next month

The after-hours GP clinic at Midland hospital was meant to provide patients with medical services as an alternative to using the hospital's emergency department. Picture: David Baylis d470287
The after-hours GP clinic at Midland hospital was meant to provide patients with medical services as an alternative to using the hospital's emergency department. Picture: David Baylis d470287

PATIENTS needing after-hours GP services in the east could be left high and dry with the clinic operating at Midland hospital set to close on November 30.

360 Health + Community has been running the clinic out of the St John of God-run Midland hospital since 2015.

The registered charity won a State Government tender to operate the service following the closure of the clinic adjacent to the Swan District Hospital, which was decommissioned on November 24, 2015.

Chief executive Elizabeth Barnes said despite treating 20,000 patients in the past year, the clinic was not financially sustainable.

“We have provided for the after-hours health care needs of the community at this clinic for some years now and we are very grateful for all the support we have received over this time,” she said.

“We have explored alternative funding options for after-hours services for eastern region residents without success.

“It is with sadness that we are advising people that our service is permanently closing.”

An East Metropolitan Health Service spokeswoman said the decision to close the service was determined by 360 Health + Community, not the EMHS.

“EMHS has contributed a small amount of funding to subsidise the operating costs of the clinic outside usual business hours,” she said.

“We are examining an alternative service to assist patients who have chronic conditions to better coordinate their care, and reduce their dependence on hospital-based care such as the need to attend the emergency department.

“There are four large GP clinics offering extended business hours in close proximity to Midland hospital and these clinics offer bulk billing facilities for eligible individuals, including children and concession cardholders.

“Mobile GP home-visiting services are also available to patients in Midland and some of the surrounding areas, providing after-hours health care to the community.”

However Community News understands that there are no mobile GP services that service the Hills region.

An AMA (WA) spokesman said the decision was disappointing.

“The association is hopeful that the existing GP clinics in Midland and adjoining suburbs will be able to pick up the demand,” he said.

“Several GP clinics in the area offer after-hours services and more will hopefully reconsider opening after hours given the Federal Government changes via new arrangements for funded urgent after-hours services.”

GP Superclinic managing director Vasantha Preetham said it would increase its hours to meet demand.

“We are well located across the road from the hospital to provide timely service in the after hours period,” she said.

“We work with all emergency departments in WA, and with other after-hours service providers, and where possible coordinate care from site to provide consumers in Midland and surrounding regions with seamless high quality care in the community setting.

“We believe it is important that the consumer be aware to seek appropriate care from the appropriate people at the right place.

“Attending a clinic at the hospital in my view, contradicts this message.”