Doctor bulk bill brawl

Doctor Bill Meagher of the Young District Medical Centre is angry with the Hilltops Council's decision to "subsidise" a new medical practice in Young.

ANGER: Doctor Bill Meagher has questioned why his medical centre was not offered the same deal as the new practice that is coming to Young.

ANGER: Doctor Bill Meagher has questioned why his medical centre was not offered the same deal as the new practice that is coming to Young.

The Hilltops Council has entered into a lease agreement with MedCIRC – a family-owned and operated healthcare service provider run by Grenfell-based GP Dr Neil Premaratne.

Dr Meagher said he was dismayed and disappointed the council had given a financial advantage (via subsidised rent) to an incoming medical entity. 

"It is incredulous that Hilltops Council would make such a decision with no discussion with any of the established medical service providers currently in Young," he said.

"I would always welcome new doctors to town on a level playing field, but this decision to subsidise the entry of a medical practice (at a cost to ratepayers) may affect the viability of the two established practices, and it may have long-term, detrimental effects on the retention of quality doctors and the provision of quality services.

Council general manager Anthony McMahon said Young’s current GP surgeries provide an outstanding service for the community.

"However, the Hilltops district is growing and with it, the demand for affordable healthcare," he said.

“The establishment of this new practice will help ensure residents of Young and surrounds have adequate access to bulk-billing GP services as we endeavour to keep pace with future population growth."

Young residents have commented via social media that they will welcome the new practice because it will bulk bill, something both existing practices only do for selected patients. However, Dr Meagher hit back at that sentiment, saying that running a bulk billing practice in Young was not financially viable.

"YDMC is not a full bulk billing practice. In rural Australia, the cost of providing a high quality independent medical practice, in conjunction with providing services to the local hospitals and nursing homes whilst maintaining full operational costs, makes 100 per cent bulk billing prohibitive," he said.

"Contrary to some public opinion, a rural GP medical practice operates with very low margins, but a significant number of patients who attend YDMC are in fact bulk billed, and no patient has ever been denied service due to inability to pay. 

"Being a rural medical practitioner is more than a simple commercial venture.”

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