Last-minute agreement saves Maryborough patients from urgent care centre fees

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An 11th-hour backflip has saved patients in the central Victorian town of Maryborough from being charged up to $300 in fees for urgent medical care.

Nightingale Clinic is one of two general practice clinics providing on-call services to Maryborough Hospital’s urgent care centre (UCC), and last week told the hospital it would begin charging patients fees.

The move would have meant up to $300 fees for certain services for non-category one patients seen at Maryborough’s UCC by Nightingale doctors from July 1.

The Victorian government confirmed the fee change in a statement provided to the ABC on Friday, which was retracted later that afternoon. 

Under previous arrangements, all urgent care services provided by both on-call medical clinics, Nightingale and Clarendon, had been bulk-billed, meaning no cost for patients.

An internal email from Ambulance Victoria management to paramedics working in the Maryborough region, leaked to the ABC last week, raised concerns about Nightingale’s decision to charge UCC patients.

The email raised fears for patients who may have struggled to pay the up-front fee. 

Service to continue ‘as normal’

Sources from within the Victorian health executive claimed the 24-hour rate for GPs to the UCC on weekends was $2,000 and questioned the requirement for GPs to charge more on top of this.

The ABC has requested comment multiple times from Nightingale Clinic but has not yet received a response.



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