How much do I have to pay?

Each doctor sets their own fees for visits and procedures, which change from time to time. Reception staff can provide you with the current fees for your doctor.

To enable us to bill you correctly please show your Medicare and Pension cards to the receptionist on arrival. We ask that you pay the fee at the time of your consultation, thereby attracting a discount. Holders of concession cards attract additional discounts.

What are your billing arrangements?

We expect payment at the time of the consultation. You can pay with cash, credit card or EFTPOS. If you have already registered your bank details with Medicare, when your receipt is processed here, the details can be sent to Medicare and Medicare can credit your rebate within a few days directly to your account. If you prefer, you can go to a Medicare office and claim your rebate straight away. Only the receipt and your Medicare card are necessary if claiming in person.

Are there any situations where I may be bulk billed?

How you are billed is a matter between you and your doctor. As a general rule we do not bulk bill consultations. If you have a particular concern in this regard, you will need to discuss it with your doctor.

What is the waiting time like for doctors?

Appointments for urgent things are arranged on the day. For routine matters, the wait for an appointment varies. If you want to see a particular doctor, or need a particular time slot, it may take a week or two until a suitable appointment is available.

How long is a normal appointment?

A standard appointment is usually between 10-15 minutes. Please ask the receptionist to book a long consultation if you need a general check-up, have more than one problem to be dealt with or need a consultation that will include counselling. If the doctor has asked you to arrange an appointment for a procedure, they will indicate how long will be needed for that procedure, and whether one of the theatres needs to be booked as well.

What if I have to cancel or reschedule an appointment?

We understand that sometimes circumstances change and you may not be able to keep an appointment. Please let us know as far ahead as possible, so that the appointment can be allocated to another patient. Patients who repeatedly make an appointment and then do not arrive, may find it difficult to make appointments in future, and may be asked to pay in advance.

Do I need an appointment for a script, referral or certificate?

Generally yes.

Medicare requires that you have a referral letter from your GP to see a specialist. It is illegal for referrals to be backdated. Therefore, we request that you make an appointment with your GP at least one week prior to your specialist appointment so that your GP can write a letter containing all the relevant information.

Prescriptions usually last 6 months, so that necessary checks can be done before you continue on. It is important that when you fill the last repeat, you make an appointment with your doctor so that a new script can be provided in a timely way. It is usually possible to synchronise scripts if you are taking several medications, so that they come due together.

A certificate states that the doctor has seen you and that you are fit/unfit. So you do need to be seen if you need a certificate.

Why is my doctor running late?

We try hard to keep to time, however injured and unexpectedly ill patients can, and do, cause delay. You can help too. Please ask the receptionist to book a long consultation if you need a general check-up, have more than one problem to be dealt with or need a consultation that will include counselling.

Can I get my test results over the phone?

It is important that you ring reception for your results, usually about a week after the test has been collected. It helps if you can ring in the afternoon. The doctor writes a short message on the result, which is what the receptionist will read to you. If you need further information, you may need to make an appointment to discuss the result with your doctor.

Can I get a family member's test results over the phone?

Privacy laws make it illegal for us to disclose any information about a patient, even to family members, without their prior consent. If you want a family member to have access to your results, you will need to ask the receptionist to note that in your file before you leave.

Can I talk to my doctor over the phone?

Unfortunately, doctors will not generally be able to take patients’ phone calls during a consultation as it is important to keep interruptions to a minimum. The doctor will return your call as soon as is practicable. If the matter is urgent please let staff know the nature of the urgency so that your call can be dealt with appropriately. Many things are best discussed in person, especially as an examination may be needed to sort the problem out.

Can I get any medical advice over the phone?

If you need to be seen urgently, please let our receptionists know and tell them the general nature of the problem. If necessary they can direct you to our treatment area for assessment by our trained nursing staff.

Do your doctors make home visits?

Home visits are available if the patient is unable to come to the surgery. These will usually be done at the completion of the doctor’s session.

How are my medical records kept?

Our medical record is kept electronically, so that whichever doctor or nurse you see, can find what they need to know to help you manage your health. Results of blood and xray tests are sent to the Practice electronically, so they can be added accurately to the file. Many specialist letters are now also sent this way, as are hospital discharge summaries. Paper letters are scanned so they can be stored electronically too.

What do I do if I have a complaint or a suggestion?

We would like to improve our service. If you have had any problems with our care, our after-hours emergency cover, the hospital or our specialist colleagues or wish to comment on any other matter, please contact us.

Experience has shown that if you have a problem with one of our doctors it is best to speak to him or her first. If you are still unhappy we would like you to write a letter to:

The Managing Partner

Goonellabah Medical Centre

616 Ballina Road GOONELLABAH,

NSW 2480

Your feedback is important to us so please write.

Should the matter not be resolved to your satisfaction after bringing it to our attention you may wish to contact the the Health Care Complaints Commission at:

Locked Mail Bag 18 Strawberry Hills, NSW, 2012 Phone (02) 9921-9744

How do I contact the doctor after hours?

AFTER HOURS TELEPHONE 0266 250047

If you ring the surgery after hours you will hear a recorded message giving the number for the After Hours Medical Service. Calls to this number will be answered by an operator who will ask for your name, phone number and message. This information will be relayed to the doctor on call who will ring you back when he or she is free. This is usually within 20 minutes. If there are any problems with the answering system, the Lismore Base Hospital receptionist should be contacted on (02) 6621-8000.

Will my doctor continue my care if I move into a care facility?

The doctors at GMC continue the care of our patients whether they are no longer able to attend the surgery, or move into a care facility. Not all doctors attend all facilities. So it may be another GMC doctor who looks after you. Check with your usual doctor as part of your planning for the move.

Will you remind me when I am due for my pap smear or a vaccination?

A system for reminders for ongoing health checks/preventative activities is available. Discuss this with your doctor. If your doctor thinks it useful, your name will be included in the system.