Inala Primary Care is a charity providing healthcare services in one of Queensland’s most disadvantaged regions. The majority of our patients have a life journey which includes battling mental illness, refugee transitions, childhood adversity, unemployment, incarceration or disability.
We bulk bill our medical services. However, providing a consultation to the one in seven of our patients who can only converse through an interpreter is such slow medicine that the Medicare rebate does not even cover our costs. In supporting those thousands of our patients with mental health issues we find ourselves drawn into all manner of social care for which there is no ready support.
We see over 800 patients each week. In catchments like this a 35 year old is likely to have the health profile of someone nearing 50. A newly retired person is often as debilitated as someone in their late 70’s. Sadly, less than 5% of our patients have health insurance. So where other GPs can refer most of their patients for ongoing care, we have to support them through years of being on a public hospital waiting list. This reality is so frustrating that other commercial practices in our region refer their most complex patients to us. This is complex work with a high burnout rate and paid the least of any area of medicine.
That is why we try and share responsibility across our team so that we make best use of everyone’s expertise. This involves creating new systems, training our nurses and allied health partners to work differently and doing research to prove that what we do is safe. We aim to produce better solutions than those currently funded by hospitals or within the general Medicare environment.
But we cannot do this work alone. The Medicare business model works best when doctors see patients every six to eight minutes. This throughput is impossible in our community. We need the time to design and implement solutions which transform the healthcare landscape. We need funds to do the research which proves how well our approaches work. The biggest payoff will be for our needy and vulnerable patients. However, the biggest return will be for those who support our work and know that they are contributing to the health revolution Australia needs to have.
In the next few weeks, we will be launching the ability to make a donation to Inala Primary Care online. All donations are tax deductible gifts.