Healthcare pressures mount


Fatima Halloum

A Werribee nurse says the healthcare sector in Wyndham is “slammed” amid high wait times and appointment unavailability.

Fatima Elmaoula, who works at a clinic in Point Cook, said a shortage of GPs and the general public’s desire to receive immediate medical attention for non-emergency issues contributed to the load.

“The demand in the western suburbs, especially in Wyndham, it is hard,” Ms Elmaoula said.

“[People say] ‘why can’t I see a GP?’ I’m sorry, I just don’t have an appointment.”

Ms Elmaoula said the mounting pressures on GP clinics subsequently places additional strain on the only emergency department in the municipality and takes up limited beds.

“We have things like nurse-on-call, SICK [13SICK], doctors that can come to your house … We have all these things that people can utilise,” she said.

“Our emergency department is already inundated.”

Manor Lakes mum Veronica Rowe began searching for an available doctor at 11am last Tuesday after her asthmatic two-year-old had breathing difficulties and didn’t respond to ventolin.

She contacted three respiratory clinics and four local doctors but was unable to secure an appointment.

“We tried seven places, and we couldn’t get into any of them … and we don’t just want to always go to the emergency room because the government is telling us that they’re flooded,” Ms Rowe said.

Ms Rowe managed to find a doctor about 5pm, who observed her son and referred her to emergency.

“He went to Werribee first, and he was sitting in the waiting room for close to 12 hours, they said that he was fine to go home,” she said.

The family later went to the Royal Children’s Hospital for treatment.

Ms Rowe said the healthcare sector in the west was “lacking” and needed to cater for the growing population.

“If we had accessed a GP at 11am, maybe we wouldn’t have had to go to the emergency,” she said.

A Mercy Health spokesperson said that while the hospital had times when its services were experiencing extremely high demand, it aimed to respond to each category of patient within an appropriate time frame.

“Our health service has substantial and strong processes to encourage patients and families to escalate or report any concerns about their care,” the spokesperson said.