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Happy News for GPs - Medical Clinic Planning for Smooth Transition During Maternity Leave

Orbost Regional Health Acting CEO Mark Johnson with GPs Dr Roisin Kinsella and Dr Jane Maxwell, and Manager of the Orbost Medical Clinic Andrew Phillips.

It is a time of both celebration and careful planning at Orbost Regional Health with the news that two of the Medical Clinic’s GPs are expecting new additions to their families later this year.

Dr Roisin Kinsella and Dr Jane Maxwell shared their joyful news with ORH staff last month.

Both GPs will begin an extended period of maternity leave in the next few months; Dr Kinsella in late June, and Dr Maxwell at the end of August.

Dr Nadira Anis will continue to see patients at the Medical Centre, providing welcome continuity during this period of transition.   

Between now and then the GPs and the ORH team will be busy getting plans in place to make sure there is as little disruption to care for patients as possible.

That work includes writing patient summaries and locum guides for incoming GPs, and making sure every patient’s GP Management Plan is up-to-date.

“We are very fortunate here in Orbost in that the GPs are just one part of a bigger treatment system,” Maxwell said. “When you’re cared for here it’s not just the GP that’s involved in your care but also the ORH nursing staff, allied health staff, the community services team, and others. That team approach means we can keep providing high quality, comprehensive care.”

Anyone who has a chronic condition is encouraged to make an appointment as soon as they can to develop or update their GP Management Plan.

To make an appointment call the Medical Clinic on 5154 6777.

A GP Management Plan is a summary of your conditions, treatments and who has been involved in your care, plus the plans and goals for your treatment.

Patients can take a copy home, and locums can access the electronic version.

“Once we have a plan for your care in place, it is easier for new doctors and allied health staff to continue your care,” Kinsella said. “It also helps patients feel in charge of their own health. People in this community should know they will still receive the care they need, regardless of changes that may happen with specific personnel.”

ORH Acting CEO Mark Johnson said recruiting had already begun to ensure the GP service in Orbost would continue uninterrupted.

“Obviously it would great to find long-term replacements, but if we need to bring in locums for a period of time then we will endeavour to use locums that have worked in Orbost before, so they have that familiarity with our patients, and vice-versa,” he said.

Johnson said demand for GPs had been outstripping supply throughout Australia for several years, but that Orbost had done better in maintaining GP service than many communities. 

Despite a number of requirements and incentives designed to encourage both local and overseas doctors to work in rural areas, a study by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare in 2020 found that around 20 percent of Australia’s rural population was unable to see a GP due to none being close by.

“Nationwide, recruitment for GPs and other health professionals is a challenge at the moment, and that’s an understatement,” he said. “But here in Orbost we have had continuous service by one or more GPs for the last 20 years. That is not the case for many rural communities around Australia.”

Maxwell agrees.

“There are some communities just a few hours from Melbourne that can’t even get one GP or regular locum coverage, so I think ORH is doing really well,” she said. “I think that reflects that ORH is a satisfying and well supported workplace, in a beautiful part of the world, servicing a lovely community.”

“We are always striving for quality and continuity of care - that’s our goal,” Johnson said. “And that’s why it’s so important that patients see their GP to ensure they understand their health and medications, and make sure their GP Management Plans are up-to-date, so that regardless of which GPs we have filling in for Dr Maxwell and Dr Kinsella over the next few months, they’ll get that continuity of care here at ORH.”