Improving Accessibility to Doctors for Secondary Students in Rural Victoria

Secondary school students from Horsham College will, this year, be able to access medical care at their school thanks to the Victorian government’s Doctors in Secondary Schools (DiSS) $43.8 million program.

Western Victoria Primary Health Network (WVPHN), the Wimmera Health Care Group’s Read St Medical Clinic and the Royal Flying Doctor Service (RFDS) have partnered to deliver the DiSS program ensuring young people receive the health support, advice and treatment they need to reach their full potential.

“WVPHN is delighted to provide timely and convenient health care options to young people in the Horsham area,” said WVPHN CEO Dr Leanne Beagley.

“Horsham College students and their parents, guardians or carers will not incur any out-of-pocket expenses for consultations with the GP,” said Dr Beagley.

A GP will attend the school one day each month to help young people identify health problems early and reduce pressure on working parents and community-based GPs. A registered nurse will be available each week at the clinic, liaising with students and staff community, working with the GP and making links with other allied health professionals working within schools to support a cohesive health management approach for students.

Students not enrolled at Horsham College, but who access the school for VCE/VCAL/VET classes and assessment, can also access the GP and nurse.

Principal of Horsham College, Rob Pyers, says the college is excited by the proactive health care the program provides. “Considering the shortage of health care services via GPs in the Wimmera, our involvement in the Doctors in Secondary Schools program means our students have unprecedented access to care and advice that will not only improve their health outcomes but presents opportunity for further learning through this access.”

RFDS GP, Dr Jane Russell, will be the attending GP at the school and believes that the privacy the program provides is equally important for the students’ health having seen its success at other Wimmera Grampians schools in Ararat and Beaufort.

“The program ensures that students can seek and obtain health advice without needing to go through their parents and/or guardians to arrange an appointment,” said Dr Russell.

“Teaching staff can also recommend that a student see the GP without the input of parents and/or guardians, which further boosts the convenience of the program for students.”

Horsham College’s service begins on Wednesday, February 12 2020.