GP clinic to reopen with new clinic dependant on federal funding

BRIGHTON’S GP clinic that was forced to close suddenly last year leaving 3000 patients without a doctor, is reopening next month.

At the same time, Brighton Council is urgently seeking $1 million in federal funding to build a Primary health care facility in Brighton township that will serve the municipality’s wide-ranging and long-term medical needs.

Council has taken a short-term lease on the building that once housed the Brighton Doctors clinic and expects it to be operating again as a clinic by late April.  This is an interim measure until the proposed  facility is built elsewhere in the Brighton township.

Brighton Mayor Tony Foster said the reopening was an immediate measure to secure a much-needed general practice facility in the township of Brighton.

Council has formed a relationship with Medical Practice Management Solutions, to run the practice when it reopens. The GP service will also work with council in seeking funding for the new primary health care facility in Brighton.

For the long-term, Council has selected a site on the Midland Highway for the and sPrimary health care facility – a primary health care complex.  If funding is approved the centre will have seven medical consulting suites for GPs and allied health specialists.

It will include rooms for physiotherapists, podiatrists, psychologists, nurse practitioners, diabetes education and a pathology collection service.

Chronic disease management programs will be delivered from the centre.  There will also be a commitment to both under-graduate and post-graduate medical education from the in-house general practice.

If funding is approved by Canberra, the medical complex will provide Brighton with a sound foundation for the delivery of comprehensive primary health care services into the future.

“The funding can’t come soon enough. We’re the fastest growing community in Tasmania and our 17,000 residents have a diversity of medical needs.  Our teenage mothers, whose numbers are three times the national average, have special needs and so do their babies,” Cr Foster said.

“The municipality also has a high proportion of residents who unfortunately have lifestyles that can lead to heart disease and diabetes type 2.  And more than five per cent of our residents are severely disabled – that’s three times the percentage in inner Hobart.”

Green Point Clinic at Bridgewater, with 14,000 patients on its books, is now at maximum capacity.  Many of the 5300 residents in the central, northern and eastern regions of the municipality now no longer have easy access to doctors. They have to travel to Hobart for medical treatment.

The Federal Government has committed $650 million to build more than 60 GP Primary health care facilitys around Australia and upgrade and extend 425 existing general practices, primary care and community health centres.  Applications for the current round of funding from the Department of Health and Ageing closed on 27 February.

Brighton Council’s proposal has support from Federal MPs and State MPs, both in government and in opposition with particular assistance from Labor M for Lyons Dick Adams and State Labor member for Lyons Rebecca White.

“Funding from this grant will be crucial in establishing a permanent medical presence in Brighton,” Mr Adams wrote in support of Brighton’s submission for $1 million to finance setting up the Primary health care facility.

“I hope this application can be speedily concluded so that doctors can return to the area and a practice can deliver expanded medical care in the region in line with the Federal Government’s expressed program.”

Cr Foster thanked Dick Adams and Rebecca White for their active support in trying to resolve the GP problem in Brighton township. “They will be pleased with the announcement that the clinic there will reopen next month,” he said.

Referring to Brighton Council’s  facility submission to Canberra, Cr Foster said: “Our proposed primary health care facility in the geographical heart of our municipality is essential for the wellbeing of the community.”

He said that not only was there an urgent need for residents in Brighton, Pontville and Tea Tree to have close access to GPs, it was imperative that the whole municipality have access to a wide range of primary health care.

This would improve health outcomes within the municipality and ease pressures on hospitals and medical facilities in Hobart.

“Brighton is becoming a place where people are choosing to live – generally land and housing are more affordable and developments such as the Brighton Transport Hub are opening up new job opportunities,” Cr Foster said.

“Council is working with community groups to broaden social and vocational activities. We provide a great opportunity for recreational activities and few municipalities could boast of having 16km of walking tracks, which are designed to encourage the community to keep fit.”

Cr Foster said Brighton municipality had experienced the fastest population growth of the 29 municipalities in Tasmania and that trend will continue.

“It is projected that by the year 2027 our population will be greater than that of the City of Burnie. All the more reason to ensure that Brighton municipality has the best primary health care facility.”