A new model of healthcare is being shaped by an unheralded Sunshine Coast pilot program aimed at reducing wait times and keeping more people out of hospitals.
The initiative, trialled over three years, is set to be expanded and could help the region cope with the demands of a surging population.
The GP with a Special Interest (GPSI) program, based at Sunshine Coast University Hospital (SCUH), sees GPs develop their skills and knowledge by working with hospital specialists a few days a week.
The experience gained can be used to great effect when they go back to their practices, while their “extra pairs of hands’’ help improve the flow in outpatient clinics at the hospital.
The initiative has been a quiet achiever to date, but its successful outcomes will be revealed by program leader, Dr Edwin Kruys, at the 2021 Sunshine Coast Health Symposium on March 18.
The inaugural symposium, hosted by the Sunshine Coast Health Institute (SCHI) in partnership with TAFE Queensland, is an online, virtual event that will showcase innovation, diversity and excellence in health.
Dr Kruys told sunshinecoastnews.com.au that the GPSI program brought hospital teams and general practitioners (GPs) closer together.
He said the model was first introduced in the UK more than 20 years ago and began as a pilot on the Sunshine Coast in 2017.
“In 2000, the National Health Service Plan defined the GPSI role as GPs who continued with their core role in the community, but with additional skills and knowledge in particular clinical areas,’’ Dr Kruys said.
“GPSIs would take referrals from other GPs and work within integrated consultant-led hospital teams in addition to hospital specialists, but not replacing them,’’ he said.
Funding for the Coast program came from the Queensland Government’s Specialist Outpatient Strategy – Improving the Patient Journey, which allocated $30 million over three years to explore service delivery models.
Dr Kruys said it was widely expected new models of care would be required in the future to meet population needs and manage increasing demand on public health services.
He said the Coast program had 19 GPs working across a number of specialties, including dermatology, gastroenterology, general surgery, gynaecology, immunology, mental health, orthopaedics, respiratory, neurology, rheumatology, urology, and vascular surgery.
He said he and colleague, Dr Michelle Johnston, were both working as GPs at the hospital General Practice Liaison Unit and their unit had been managing the project with support from management, consultants, nurses and administration staff.
The 2021 Sunshine Coast Health Symposium
WHAT: The Sunshine Coast Health Institute (SCHI) is a dedicated education, training and research facility that in partnership with TAFE Queensland is hosting the inaugural Sunshine Coast Health Symposium. This event will showcase innovation, diversity and excellence in health, with presentations to focus on education, research, innovation, working in partnership, and population and community health. The symposium is an online, virtual event. Interested parties can register now to be notified of the live stream link.
WHEN: March 18-19.
WHERE: Virtual seminar, sign up to receive the link.