Seeing a GP? I hope you're patient

IF YOU have just moved to the Fraser Coast and need to see a GP, be prepared for long waiting times and outright refusals.

The Chronicle investigation team spent a day "undercover" and on the phone, calling local clinics in an attempt to schedule an appointment with one of the region's 96 listed doctors.

The criterion was simple: to find a new patient a bulk billing medical centre that had an available appointment that same day.

Not surprisingly, it proved a difficult task - right up there with developing the theory of relativity and walking on the moon - Albert Einstein and Neil Armstrong would surely be rolling about in their graves.

Of the 31 Fraser Coast medical clinics listed on the GP Links website, only two satisfied the criteria ... the Hope Family Practice and the River Heads Medical Centre.

As for the other 29, results varied. In Maryborough it was impossible to find a bulk billing GP for new patients unless you held a pension or government health care card.

However, there were a couple prepared to offer a same day appointment but it would cost more than $60 a visit.

In outlying towns such as Tiaro, Bauple and Howard, you would be unable to see a doctor anytime soon.

Bauple has a GP but the appointment book is full. The others have empty medical centres but need a GP.

Up the road in Burrum Heads and a win was almost had. Its centre ticked some of the boxes - it offered bulk billing and was accepting new patients - but scheduling proved difficult with the practice only open part of the time.

Which brings us to the area most populated with GPs on the Fraser Coast ... Hervey Bay.

With more than twice as many doctors servicing a similar sized population as do those in Maryborough and other outlying Fraser Coast towns, you could be forgiven for thinking the criteria would have been met numerous times.

But sadly, it was not the case.

Of the 21 clinics listed on the GP Links website, only two fitted the bill.

A few were not taking any new patients, some could offer an appointment the same day for a fee while others had places on offer in the days that followed.


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