Doctor cutback fears

By Esther Lauaki

Sunbury patients fear that they could face long wait times in hospital emergency rooms after hours if Gap Road Medical Centre reduces its opening hours.

The clinic, which operates between 8am and 10pm on weekdays, earlier this month applied to Hume council for planning permission to operate a pharmacy at the site.

But as part of the application process, according to the council, the opening hours for the medical centre would be reviewed.

Star Weekly has been unable to find out why the opening hours would be reviewed.

Gap Road Medical Centre is the only one of seven medical clinics in Sunbury that opens later than 8pm.

Dr Emil Baselyous, the applicant, did not respond to Star Weekly’s questions before deadline.

Hume council planning and development director Michael Sharp confirmed that an application for a pharmacy at the Gap Road Medical Centre had been received.

“Assessment of the application is currently underway and a report will be presented to a future council meeting in the coming months,” Mr Sharp said.

Patients launched a petition online last week pushing for the clinic to stay open until 10pm.

“The medical centre caters to our community by not only continuing to bulk bill everyone but by keeping their clinic open seven days a week and being available until 10pm weeknights,” the petition stated.

“It’s hard enough to get into a doctor as it is. Imagine how hard it would be being restricted an extra 18 hours a week …those of us who are shift workers can only attended a doctors clinic at a certain time.”

Some patients took to Facebook to air their concerns about the possible earlier closure of the clinic.

“I’m a shift worker … and I’ve been going to Gap Rd Medical Centre for 15 years,” one patient wrote. “I love the flexibility of hours, it suits me … we can’t afford to go to the hospital emergency department and wait four to six hours to see a doctor.”