September 23, 2020
Together, our organisations represent, the peak representative bodies for general practice and primary care in the Australian Capital Territory.
Last week’s announcement that a re elected ACT Labor Government would establish a further 5 Walk-in Centres (WIC) and that the first of those would be co-located with the existing National Health Co-operative in Coombs has caused our organisations considerable concern, due to the lack of an open, public and competitive tender process to determine the location.
As a result of this concern that the first WIC location was selectively chosen and announced, we wrote to ACT Labor and a copy of that correspondence is attached. We have received no reply.
For some time, we’ve known that if we can better integrate care across our health system – from public hospitals, to general practices and on to allied and other healthcare services – better outcomes can be achieved for patients.
At a time when we all should be working towards better integration of care, the allocation of the first of the new WICs – without consultation with Canberra’s general practitioners or our organisations – brings with it the risk of further splintering care. We know it is important that, if co-location is to proceed, that the new model of care be developed carefully and cautiously, to avoid unexpected consequences. We are willing to work with a re-elected ACT Labor Government to develop accessible and sustainable models for any future WICs.
In addition, given the potentially significant commercial benefits flowing to any co-located general practice, it is vital that the new WICs are allocated using a process that is open, public and competitive, ensuring we have a transparent process for expenditure of public money. Otherwise, ‘picking winners’ risks not only the sustainability of general practices in the surrounding areas, but our community cannot be satisfied that multi-million dollar expenditure of public monies is being undertaken fairly or effectively.
Finally, we know it’s a challenge to bring the various parts of the healthcare system closer together and get them working in harmony- particularly in a time of COVID-19. But that’s where the big gains lie. ACT Health know this, as do Canberra Health Services, and all of us. GPs know it and, most importantly, so do our patients.
This is why we call upon Chief Minister, Andrew Barr and Health Minister, Rachel Stephen-Smith to make public election commitments to, firstly, an open, public and competitive tender process to allocate the proposed co-located WICs and, secondly, to consult on the new model of care being implemented as part of the proposed WICs.
Dr Antonio Di Dio, President, AMA ACT – 0439 419 523
Dr Charlotte Hespe, Chair, RACGP NSW&ACT Faculty- (via Anne Davis 0417 438 423)
Ms Roz Lemon – Capital Health Network- 0417 179 314