Healthscope specialists to visit Cape York communities

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Australian private healthcare player Healthscope will deploy some of its top clinicians to Cape York to work with local indigenous health providers.

Healthscope will send nine clinical psychologists to the Djarragun College at Gordonvale, south of Cairns, to carry out formal assessments. More than half the students at the college are suspected of having a disability.

An Adelaide-based trauma specialist will also travel to nearby Yarrabah to advise the community on a proposed overhaul of its stretched accident and emergency service.

The announcement follows Healthscope’s approach to the Cape York Partnership, the organisation founded by indigenous leader Noel Pearson, and the help will be provided on a pro bono basis.

The healthcare giant has also said it plans to deploy its considerable resources on an ongoing basis.

“We have an enormous list of needs in the health and wellbeing space in Cape York,” Cape York Partnership chief executive Duncan Murray said. “And to have an organization of Healthscope’s capability and size coming to lend a hand is a terrific result.”

Healthscope is one of Australia’s largest private healthcare players. It operates 44 private hospitals around the country, the majority of which are located in affluent inner-metropolitan suburbs.

Cape York, on the other hand, is one of Australia’s most disadvantaged regions. The population, which is largely indigenous, experiences high rates of cancer, obesity, alcoholism and preventable injury.

Healthscope chief medical officer Michael Coglin said the area was well-serviced by healthcare facilities but suffered from a shortage of specialist clinicians.

“Well, we’ve got 27,000 of them practicing in (our) hospitals,” Dr Coglin said. “What we’re asking, in a respectful way, is how can we bring to the table the things the indigenous organisations up there have identified as making a difference?”

The Queensland Health-run accident and emergency service at Yarrabah could soon be taken over by the Gurriny Yealamucka Health Service, but the facility often exceeded its $4 million annual budget due to a high number of non-emergency cases after hours.

Gurriny chief executive Sue Andrews said while the board had not yet decided whether or not it would sign the proposed deal, it is hoped Healthscope would develop a model that promotes financially sustainable care.

“Money from government is getting tighter and tighter,” Ms Andrews said. “Ultimately we want to make Gurriny a sustainable business … and build our own resources.”

Djarragun College principal Robyn Hughes said the planned visit of clinical psychologists was an “enormous opportunity”.

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