Hospital’s after hours service to be scrapped

Check up.
Check up.

The after hours GP clinic at Campbelltown Hospital will be scrapped from January 28 next year.

The service is run by the South Western Sydney Primary Health Network (PHN) and operates from 6pm-10pm from Sunday to Friday, and 2pm-10pm on Saturdays and public holidays.

It’s staffed by a rotating roster of local GPs and also offers bulk billing.

Macarthur MP and paediatrician Dr Michael Freelander said the after hours service gave people seeking another option rather than clogging up the emergency department.

He was livid when he learned of the decision.

After multiple attempts he said he “finally managed to get a hold of the PHN who said it was being shut down by the South Western Sydney Local Health District because the hospital needs the space”.

He said the decision needed to be reversed.

“It’s an absolutely disgraceful decision,” he said.

“We know that it is a very efficient way of stopping people attending the emergency department and it’s particularly used by older people and parents with young children.”

A similar service that operated out of Liverpool Hospital would cease from December 31 this year.

SWSPHN chief executive Keith McDonald said the SWSLHD indicated when the tenancy agreement ran out in 18 months, it would not be renewed.

Mr McDonald said the PHN was now focused on making sure after hours GP services were available in the area. He said the PHN were now focused on encouraging more GPs to stay open after hours which would allow patients to see doctors closer to home.

Asked if he was disappointed with the SWSLHD’s decision to not renew the lease, Mr McDonald said “I guess so, but it’s a business decision so we are just getting on with and putting other options in place”.

“These changes mean we have the potential to decentralise the service.”

Campbelltown MP Greg Warren said the decision was “outrageous”.

“It’s like the state and federal Liberal governments are waging war on the very region where they are putting extra people,” he said.

“Both governments have to go and that’s not based on politics – it’s based on sheer incompetence.”

NSW Australian Medical Association president or Orangeville resident Brad Frankum, said the closure would add to existing concerns.

“The AMA is concerned about a lack of access to after hours GP services across the board,” he said.

“The emergency emergency department is already feeling the strain so you’d have to worry about the closure of any after hours GP service which will increase demand on the ED.”

Campbelltown and Camden hospitals general manager, Alison Derrett, defended the decision.

“We are working with South Western Sydney PHN to develop a new model, which will see some GPs have extended hours in more locations, which will increase access to GPs,” she said.

“With the expansion of GP services across Macarthur, we do not believe there will be an impact on the emergency department.”