Oamaru’s Central Medical is getting ready to blow out a lot of candles.
The Eden St practice celebrates its 21st birthday this month, after it was established by Dr Jon Scott and Dr Steve Dawson _ both of whom are still at the practice _ in 1995.
Dr Scott, originally from southeast England, worked in Palmerston North and Australia before he made his way to Oamaru.He eventually found the ideal practice, then known as Eden House on the corner of Eden St and Reed St. “I was looking for a place in the South Island.
“There was a previous British GP who was selling . . . he was with Steve and the practice was selling, so basically I just bought the practice and at the same time we moved into this building.” Dr Scott said Oamaru was the ideal place to set up shop. “It wasn’t too small and it wasn’t too big . . . it was just right.”
He felt the key to a good practice was no secret _ it was about hard work and highly-trained, motivated staff. “We just constantly keep our heads down and do a good job; providing a quality service has been the driving force. “We’re very happy with the facility we’ve got. We’ve got a great minor surgery set-up, and we have family planning too.” Central Medical, which employs four fulltime doctors, is the only practice in Oamaru that has Cornerstone accreditation from the Royal New Zealand College of General Practitioners, a fact of which Dr Scott and Dr Dawson, who both trained in England, are proud.
Cornerstone is a combined quality improvement and quality assurance process which allows a practice to measure itself against a defined set of standards.
According to both doctors, the industry has changed significantly over the years.
Dr Dawson believed some of the most significant changes were the vast improvement in the management of complex and chronic diseases, the “rise and rise” of Pharmac, and the “gradual attrition” of Oamaru Hospital by the Southern District Health Board. He said with cuts to services at the hospital still a possibility, Oamaru could not afford to lose the service he considered most vital. “We must maintain our 24-hour accident and emergency. Our lives will become very difficult without it.”
Dr Scott agreed, and said the hospital provided a “fine service”.
He said the biggest change he had seen in the industry in the past two decades was the Government’s introduction of the capitation system, which led to physicians being paid a set amount for each enrolled person assigned to them, per period of time, whether or not that person sought medical care. The
amount of funding was based on the expected health care needs of that patient, with greater payment for patients with significant medical histories.
“It used to be very much a fee-for-service system, but now we get bulk funding,” he said.