Federal Health Minister Tanya Plibersek tours the new Gladstone GP Super Clinic, Phillip Street, Gladstone.
Federal Health Minister Tanya Plibersek tours the new Gladstone GP Super Clinic, Phillip Street, Gladstone. Luka Kauzlaric

Four GP clinics extend hours to ease pressure on hospital

FOUR Gladstone region GP clinics will extend their opening hours under a new federal government initiative to ease pressure on Gladstone Hospital.

Federal Health Minister Tanya Plibersek was in the region on Tuesday, a day ahead of Prime Minister Kevin Rudd.

She said the $50,000 "Go GP not ED!" project discouraged patients from presenting to emergency departments with minor complaints.

"We know that a lot of people are turning up to hospital emergency who don't need to be there," Ms Plibersek said.

Boyne Island Family Medical Centre, BITS Medical Centre, Tannum Sands Family Practice and Gladstone GP Super Clinic will offer extended opening hours and 24-hour on-call service through the project.

Patients will also have to pay an after-hours gap fee ranging between $30-$70 per appointment.

CQ Medicare Local board chair Bruce Elliot said BITS Medical Centre in Boyne Island would open two hours earlier and close four hours later on week days.

"That's when we see the most presentations in category 4 and 5 patients or those with lower grade medical issues," Mr Elliot said.

Before the new project launched, the last appointment residents could make was 7pm at the Gladstone GP Super Clinic.

Ms Plibersek also lashed out at the state government for failing to inject funding into Gladstone's health system.

"Queensland government has actually cut $4.5m from the local health service," she said.

"Our funding to Gladstone Hospital continues to increase."

Flynn LNP MP Ken O'Dowd said the Coalition's fully costed and detailed plan for regional health in Gladstone would be released "in due course", prior to this year's federal election.

Our new clinic is just super

NEXT Monday the long-awaited Gladstone GP Super Clinic will open its doors to patients.

But on Tuesday directors Dr John Bird and Dr Evan Jones and practice manager Jodie Myers opened the $11 million facility to members of the health community for a sneak peek.

Federal Health Minister Tanya Plibersek was in awe as she walked through the facility.

"It's such a knock-out; I really wasn't expecting to see MRI machines. It's amazing," Ms Plibersek said.

The Phillip St clinic offers a podiatry, audiology, physiotherapy, and radiotherapy and pathology services.

GP Super Clinic director Dr John Bird said he was excited about the opening.

"It will become Gladstone's allied health hub," he said.