Springwood’s super GP clinic has finally welcomed its new permanent full-time GPs, allowing the federally-funded centre to open for longer hours.
Clinical lead Dr Arshard Merchant started at the Balance! Springwood Family Practice last week following a drawn-out visa process, while Dr Edward Kalanzi started shortly before him.
Balance! Healthcare chief executive Kate Gunn said both doctors moved to Australia from England and were settling their families in the local area.
“They are here permanently and are making their homes here,” she told the Gazette.
The two join Dr Mythily Ramanthan, a female GP who started at the clinic about four weeks ago, Dr Viviane Leventhal, and Dr Mario Soteriou, a locum originally from Brisbane who has decided to relocate to the Mountains.
“Dr Soteriou has been a locum here for six weeks and from the day he started, patients were asking if he was going to stay,” Kate said.
“He is going to relocate here, he really likes the community feel, it’s been really welcoming.”
The multi-million dollar clinic opened to new patients on Ferguson Road in January nearly three years after the Federal Government gave it the green light.
GP services in the area are in high demand with doctor to patient ratios currently running at 1:2000, far in excess of the Federal Government’s 1:800 benchmark.
The clinic is part of a “hub and spoke” model linked to smaller centres at Katoomba and Blackheath, which have been operating for some time.
The model is designed to provide allied healthcare services, and the Springwood centre in particular features not only general practitioners and nurses but audiology, a dietician, chiropractor, osteopath, pathology, psychology, sleep services, speech pathology, a clinical pharmacist and specialists.
The Blackheath practice also moved into its new premises at 108 Wentworth Street over the June long weekend.
“The new building is bigger and more modern,” Kate said. “We’ve been in the old building for many years.”
The new doctors at Springwood bring the number of full-time GPs to four and part-timers to two, Kate said.
The boost in numbers would allow the clinic to open seven days, as well as to 8pm on Monday and Tuesday nights, she said.
“If there is enough demand from the community, we will open to 10pm,” Kate said.
“People should tell us what they want. We do get quite a few patients to 8pm.”
While there had been some hiccups with the service, Kate said she was happy with the way the clinic was now running.
“The biggest gripe people had was the lack of permanent doctors, but now we can say we’ve solved that problem and will follow through with extended hours,” she said.