Sale College still hasn’t found a doctor

A DOCTOR has not yet been found for Sale College.

The state government’s Doctors in Secondary Schools Program rolled out to several more Gippsland schools at the beginning of term three, but the Sale College has confirmed it still has no doctor.

Principal Brendan Staple said there had been positive initial meetings.

“We have a fully kitted out doctor’s quarters at the junior campus, and we’re in consultation with the Gippsland Primary Health Network who are seeking expressions of interest for filling it one day a week with a doctor and a nurse,” he said.

“We have had an initial meeting and met with practice managers and doctors who own their own clinics, I think they’re still in negotiation in making it worthwhile for them.

“They’re all very positive on the idea; it just has to fit within their business structure.”

Gippsland PHN chief executive Marianne Shearer said moves were underway to find a doctor.

“Gippsland PHN is working closely with the Victorian Department of Education and Training, local general practices and schools involved to ensure the program can be successfully implemented in Gippsland schools participating in the program,” she said.

“The very nature of pilot programs of this kind, means that implementation in regional areas will inevitably bring up unique challenges. 

“In this case, we know how important it is to help clinics to be flexible and open to adapting their usual business practices.

“We are continuing to actively pursue available options in Sale, and will do the same for Maffra in time for their 2018 start.”

Education Minister James Merlino said the initiative would improve GP attendance rates among adolescents, but noted a doctor still needed to be found.

“Instead of students using Google as their doctor, we are putting GPs in 100 Victorian government secondary schools,” he said.

“We have engaged Victoria’s six Primary Health Networks to lead the recruitment of medical centres, GPs and practice nurses to work in the program. 

“Gippsland PHN is currently working with government, in close consultation with the Sale College, to find a medical centre, GP and nurse that are the right fit for the school and students.” 

Mr Staple said he was looking forward to the program beginning, noting it would link in with the school’s wellbeing program, and allow referrals for other health practitioners .

“It’s the whole village raises a child thing,” he said.

“It allows us to work with their family and get them an appointment — for example, for anxiety and mental health issues, a doctor can be on hand for a mental health assessment which is required for referrals.”

A state government media release noted any medical information would be confidential and managed according to law, with doctors deciding whether students were mature enough to consent to treatment, or to acquire parent or carer consent.

Eastern Victoria MLC Harriet Shing said having a doctor in schools, especially in rural areas, would improve adolescent attendance rates.

“Many are missing out on the vital health care they need,” she said.

“Students will be able to see a GP on-site and get on top of health problems early, including mental health issues.”

Doctors have been found for two thirds of the 60 schools currently participating in the program, with half in regional areas.

A GP has recently been appointed to Traralgon Secondary College, to begin clinic services in late August.