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The debate

The Victorian Government has recently introduced a new initiative called Doctors in Secondary Schools with the aim of providing access to free primary health care to students and to relieve pressure on community based GPs. The program will commence in Term 1 2017 and is designed so that a GP will attend a government secondary school one day per week and provide advice and treatment to students. The GP will work just like any other GP with the ability to refer, request and write prescriptions for students.

This initiative has received a variable reaction in the community. Some have supported the initiative stating that it will relieve the burden on working parents and help diagnose health issues at an earlier age.

However, the concern is that this program is cutting parents out of the loop. The Education Minister has refused to advise if parents will be notified that their children are seeking medical advice, only stating that the GP-patient relationship will remain the same. Parents are concerned that children as young as 12 could receive medications and referrals to specialists without the knowledge of their parents. There is yet to be a clear answer on what role the parents will be able to have such as signing a permission slip to see a school GP.

The Australian Medical Association stated to ABC News they have concerns about the viability of the program including the financial structure that has been untested, patient privacy and the ability to have correct equipment.

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