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Parliamentary Questions

Question Without Notice No. 355 asked in the Legislative Council on 10 May 2018 by Hon Robin Scott

Minister responding: Hon R.H. Cook
Parliament: 40 Session: 1
Answered on

      355. Hon ROBIN SCOTT to the parliamentary secretary representing the Minister for Health:
      (1) Is the minister aware of a report by Joanna Delalande in the Kalgoorlie Miner on Friday, 4 May, to the effect that the Kambalda community could be left without a doctor after the health provider at the town's only general medical practice inexplicably withdrew its services?
      (2) What is the minister's best estimate of the number of people reliant upon the local medical practice in Kambalda?
      (3) What action is being taken by the Department of Health to ensure that the residents of Kambalda East and Kambalda West, plus other nearby residents, have uninterrupted access to medical care?
      (4) What is the ratio of residents to medical practitioners in Western Australia and what is the ratio of residents to medical practitioners in the Shire of Coolgardie?
I thank the honourable member for some notice of the question.
      (1) Jupiter Health is a privately owned business and is contracted by the Shire of Coolgardie to provide the general practitioner staff and service at Kambalda Family Practice. Its contract is due for renewal in July 2018. It has advised the Shire of Coolgardie that it will not be entering into another contract.
      (2) The estimated population of Kambalda is 2 400 people. However, many of these people reside within the mining facilities or drive in and out for work purposes, including to the nearby regional centre of Kalgoorlie–Boulder.
      (3) WA Country Health Service works with and supports the Shire of Coolgardie with respect to the contracted private general practitioner service. The Kambalda community health centre is staffed by nurses who provide a range of healthcare services. The range of care services and programs provided includes child health, school health, nurse-led emergency response care, post-acute care, women's health, chronic condition management, and immunisation. There is also access to a range of public and privately funded allied health, maternal health, health promotion, mental health, cancer care and palliative care services. The health centre is telehealth enabled, which means it has the resources to provide consultations with medical specialists and other specialist services using audio and visual links over the internet. This service is not established for general practice presentations. WACHS nursing staff will continue to support the community through the provision of these services and programs while the Shire of Coolgardie seeks general practitioner services. Many residents use the range of medical services available from the mining sites and/or in Kalgoorlie.
      (4) The Shire of Coolgardie consists of the Kambalda and Coolgardie town sites. The current estimated population of the Shire of Coolgardie is 3 613. Three general practitioners currently reside in the shire—namely, one full-time and one-part time GP in Kambalda, and one part-time GP in Coolgardie. WACHS understands that the estimated ratio of residents to medical practitioners in the goldfields region is 55.75 per 100 000 headcount. WACHS is unable to break down this figure per shire. Recruitment of GPs into regional areas remains a challenge across Australia. WACHS works closely with agencies such as Rural Health West to support the attraction and retention of GPs and continues to invest over $14 million a year in a range of royalty for regions–funded GP incentive payments.