General Practice : Squishy and Uncertain


General Practice suffers an image problem.
Experts call it squishy and uncertain compared to the shiny and cutting-edge of emergency departments.
It’s not sexy, we are not the rock stars of medicine.
(BTW : I still think I could have been a rock star, though, maybe. …Mm.)

One way to explain our value to medical students is to use time travel. We take an example of a 65 year gent having a cardiac arrest and being treated in Accident and Emergency with a defibrillator. He comes back to life , with the 10 expert staff, pinging monitors and multiple puncture sites. Doctors giving high fives, chest bounces and John Travolta poses. Yea .. baby!!
Now time travel back 5 years. What would have happened to that same patient if he was seen by his GP, who recognised his high risk and treated his elevated blood pressure and raised cholesterol with medications. ? If that GP had worked to partner the patient in a raft of lifestyle changes to stop smoking, loose weight and exercise. ?
Then this patient would not be having this catastrophe. Which is impressive, but I’m afraid its underwhelming for young doctors , No popping paparazzi. It’s more like “Elvis has left the building” . It’s fairy claps for the 1st preventer, TV shows for the 1st responder. We need to change that mindset.

There is something to be said for having a regular GP. Researches tell us that adults over 60 who have a multiple GP’s are 20% more likely to die. Those with regular GP’s are 12% less likely to be hospitalised with conditions that could have been managed in primary healthy care.
In General Practice there are less problems for us to “fix”, and we spend more time in preventative health, treating chronic diseases and depression. This is primary health care. It is also about differentiating problems. Is your tiredness related to late nights or thyroid disease ? is your troubling itch a skin problem, an infectious disease or pancreatic cancer? We aim to keep you out of hospital and avoid unnecessary tests and referrals.
General Practice is underfunded by the Government, which is why our patients are finding there are more out of pocket expenses. Funding is a measly 5 % of the Health budget or $30.40 per person per month. That’s less than a Foxtel subscription. Any Emergency visit starts at over $100 to the community.
Hospital funding is currently going up the charts with a rocket. Politicians look better at scrubs than in waiting rooms.
We seem to be giving ARIA awards for fixing up a problem, not preventing it.
Having said that , I would like to think our little General Practice handles emergencies and acute medicine very well. We can look after cuts, put up a drip, clean wounds, treat skin cancers and most of what you can throw at us. ( no underwear please .)

So once again , its a plea to our patients. Join with us in managing your illness. We have a whole team of Nurses and Allied Health professionals, working with our doctors , all trying to keep you well. Physically and emotionally.

ALSO : Influenza vaccinations clinics are next week (Monday 1st to Friday 5th May 8.30am – 9.00am.)       We are getting the Shingles vaccine to our patients as soon as we get it from the government. Hang in there.

AND : I will tell what is shiny and new, though ….. The new patient App coming soon. It will be the way to book appointments , look up results, and access you’re health information. Coming to the App Store soon. Keep you posted.

Neil Donovan