Inala Primary Care is a charitable general practice which leases premises from Queensland Health. We serve over 5000 patients and grew by 20% last year because our patients cannot find suitable care in standard bulk billing practices.
Our co-location with a range of community health services means patients often confuse us with a government run service. For more than a decade we have been a separate organisation running a general practice which Queensland Health had been going to close due to the losses it made every year. Our Board were brave and took on the challenge of continuing to provide high quality general practice care in a community of extraordinary need.
Sadly, our patients are some of the most complex in our region which is counted in the 12 most disadvantaged regions in Queensland (the other 11 being remote indigenous communities). Therefore, like Queensland Health before us, we struggle to deliver care within the funding Medicare provides. In recent years this challenge has been harder than ever. A five year freeze on Medicare indexation has meant an effective erosion of nearly 20% of our income. In the 2017 federal budget the government’s only concession was to lift our bulk billing incentive by a few cents. The net effect will be around $3,000 in income this financial year. That is barely a dent in the $495,000 per year we would have received in additional income had Medicare been linked to inflation over this period.
This lack of income means we are struggling to replace our equipment, most of which is now over 10 years old. With some residents of this community still referring to our services as the “Inala Hospital” we often have patients present to us with injuries and symptoms which can only be addressed in an Emergency Department. For that reason, we are one of the few general practices to maintain a full resuscitation trolley and deliver more advanced wound care. All of this equipment is vital to keep patients safe whilst we wait for an ambulance. Your donations will help us keep our equipment up to date.
We are a research active practice. This too is unusual. We do research because we need to demonstrate to government the needs of our patients. Most health policy and funding is based on the needs of middle Australia. 49% of our patients come from the 10% of lowest incomes in the country. Two thirds are on pensions or have health care cards. They are unlikely to participate in traditional research and are under-represented in planning discussions around health care needs.
Most medical research is done by hospital based clinicians or pharmaceutical companies. They have little insight into what patients do when they are outside the care of a hospital. The more we can improve community delivered care, the more we can help patients stay in their homes where they really want to be. We also want to do research on patients with more than one disease or condition. The vast majority of clinical trials exclude patients who have more than one condition as it is harder to study the effect of new drugs or devices. In reality, over 40% of Australian adults have two or more conditions. We need to know more about how to treat their disease and manage their care. Your donation will free our clinicians to spend time putting data in front of decision makers so that our patients can access improved care.
The majority of the complex patients we see have had difficult lives. Many are socially isolated and very dependent upon us as their care team. Too often, we have to treat the end result of social issues. We would prefer to spend more of our time delivering social care programs to our patients so that they do not need drugs and medical attention. This is a growing area of our innovation and one where no regular government money is available. Your donations of time, money and resources will help us reduce the ultimate cost of caring for some of society’s most unwanted people. Refugees, patients with mental health issues and disability, the frail aged and those who have experienced all manner of abuse make up the majority of our patient group. You can help end their suffering and reduce the cost to hospitals and welfare systems by supporting them improve their life.
All donations are fully tax deductible. We also take bequests from patients and family members who have benefitted from the care we provide through until the end of their lives.