More than 20,000 people from across the Kiama LGA will be able to access the Radio Doctor Illawarra after hours home doctor service, thanks to funding from Illawarra-Shoalhaven Medicare Local, announced today.

The service, which operates from Scarborough in the region’s north to Gerroa in the south seven days a week, 365 days a year, is being delivered by Radio Doctor Illawarra (previously known as Wollongong Radio Doctor), following a grant from Illawarra-Shoalhaven Medicare Local. An additional base now operates in the area to enhance efficiency when responding to calls from Kiama residents.

According to Dianne Kitcher, Chief Executive Officer of Illawarra-Shoalhaven Medicare Local, the expansion is a significant announcement for the local community.

“There has long been a need to increase access to an after hours service for Kiama residents and in turn, ease the pressure on local hospitals and GPs,” Ms Kitcher said.

“We are delighted to be able to facilitate the expansion into the area and continue to support the great work that Radio Doctor has been doing in providing critical after hours health care to Illawarra residents for more than 40 years.”

Radio Doctor Illawarra is a not-for-profit, accredited, GP-member based cooperative providing access to doctors at evenings, during the night, on weekends and on public holidays when a patient’s regular GP is closed or a visit to an emergency department is deemed unnecessary. It is a bulk billed service available to Medicare card holders.

Kiama and Gerringong GPs have been very supportive of how the service will enhance the provision of essential after hours healthcare in the area, with many local doctors and practices having already signed up to become members.

Today’s announcement forms part of a broader expansion of the after hours service into the northern Wollongong region.

“Servicing suburbs from Scarborough to Gerroa allows more than 40,000 additional residents access to this essential service, taking the total to 288,000,” Dr Liz Magassy, Chairman of Radio Doctor Illawarra, said.

The service currently receives approximately 18,000 calls per year via its Wollongong-based call centre, the majority from parents of young children or the elderly. Radio Doctor Illawarra do not prescribe S8 drugs or care for cuts or wounds, and will advise if a hospital visit is necessary.
The service provides a follow-up report to a patient’s regular GP, if a member of Radio Doctor Illawarra.

“Radio Doctor Illawarra works closely with member GPs to provide excellent continuity of care for their patients,” Dr Magassy said.

“This expansion is also significant as we celebrate our 40th Anniversary this year. We are proud of the history and service which has been able to maintain a high quality of after hours, bulk billed care to residents of the region,” she added.