More than 220 students at Charles Latrobe Secondary School’s Pavilion Campus can see a doctor free within a dedicated clinic located in the school as part of the Victorian Government’s Doctors in Secondary Schools program.
The school is one of 11 throughout Eastern Melbourne PHN’s (EMPHN) catchment to benefit from the Victorian Department of Education and Training’s Doctors in Secondary Schools program, run in partnership with Victoria’s six PHNs.
EMPHN CEO Robin Whyte said the Doctors in Secondary Schools program aims to make health care more accessible to students during what can be a particularly challenging and stressful time of their lives.
“Identifying and addressing health issues early before they affect their studies, and building trust and rapport between young people and GPs, makes for a smoother transition from young person to adult,” she said.
Charles Latrobe Secondary School principal Josie Howie said the entire school community will benefit from having access to this initiative. “Many of our students are reluctant or wary about accessing GP support,” she said.
“We believe using existing relationships with Pavilion staff would enable students to feel more comfortable about the process of engaging with their local GP and nurse, enabling earlier intervention to address developing health concerns.”
The school is partnering with Ivanhoe Medical in Ivanhoe, and a doctor and a nurse from the clinic will visit the school for up to one day a week.
Kate Robins-Browne, a GP from Ivanhoe Medical, said that young people today face many challenges and access to medical care and counselling is often difficult for them due to transport, finance and time.
“Young people can feel uncomfortable attending a GP, especially if they are uncertain about issues such as cost and confidentiality,” she said. “I hope that by being on the campus during school hours, and by attending the classrooms to discuss the services and answer questions, some of the barriers would be overcome.”
The 2016/17 Victorian Budget provided $43.8 million for Doctors in Secondary Schools. Under the program $25.8 million will go to recruiting and training GPs as well as staffing and operational costs, while a further $18 million to build modern clinical facilities on the school grounds.
EMPHN works to improve the wellbeing of its community, particularly for those at risk of poor health outcomes, by improving coordination of care and ensuring patients receive the right care in the right place at the right time. EMPHN works across an area of 3,956 km² comprising a population of more than 1.5 million people. www.emphn.org.au