Public Hospital Patients
Australia residents are entitled to free treatment under the Medicare system. If you see Dr. Thornton-Bott as a public patient and need surgery, you will be placed on the waiting list to have your surgery at Shoalhaven District Memorial Hospital in Nowra. Your surgery will be performed by a specialist, but it cannot be guaranteed that Dr Thornton-Bott will perform the operation. This is standard practice in public hospitals. Only in the private setting can you choose your surgeon and Dr. Thornton-Bott can see you as a private patient at a time and place that suits you.
Some people believe that the operation you have in a private hospital is somehow different than the operation you will have in the Public hospital. This is not true. The operation you have will be the same operation, and the equipment and implants used are likely to be the same or very similar, but in the public hospital you cannot choose your surgeon. Although all surgeons are trained to a high standard, it is obvious that some surgeons are more experienced in certain areas than others.
How do I get Referred?
Your GP will be provide you with a referral which will be given to you or can be faxed to Dr Thornton-Bott’s Rooms on 02 8901 4305. If you are given the referral yourself, please call Dr. Thornton-Bott’s rooms on 1300 208899 and an appointment will be made for you at the next available time. Waiting times for appointments will depend upon clinical need and availability. Your GP will usually indicate that you need a more urgent appointment if necessary. If you have a fracture that does not need immediate ED attention, Dr. Thornton-Bott will see you within 1-2 weeks.
What is the cost of the Consultation?
Most Specialists will see you in their private rooms if you are a public patient and there will be a fee for this. Dr. Thornton-Bott’s receptionists will advise you of the costs for your consultation when you make the appointment. As long as you have a referral from your GP you will receive the Medicare rebate for your appointment. The system is set up so that this usually occurs either the same day or the next day after your appointment to minimise your out of pocket costs.
Can I be Bulk Billed?
Patients that can demonstrate financial hardship can request a Bulk-Billed (BB) appointment though their GP at the time of referral. Dr. Thornton-Bott has allocated a number of BB appointments in his clinic schedule, so it is a first-come-first-served system. As such you may wait longer for your appointment. Urgent referrals may be seen quickly AND be bulk-billed. Please discuss this with the receptionist when you call to book.
What about the Fracture Clinic?
Dr. Thornton-Bott provides a FREE fracture clinic at SDMH. This allows management of ACUTE fractures to ALL patients at NO COST. Your attendance to ED with an acute injury and subsequent follow-up appointments at the Fracture Clinic over the first 1-2 weeks will take place in the Fracture Clinic in the Out-Patient department at SDMH. Once the acute period is over, subsequent follow-up appointments will be in Dr. Thornton-Bott’s rooms and will incur an out of pocket expense, although Medicare rebate will be available for most of the appointments.
At the time of writing, the Fracture Clinic is limited in capacity and Dr Thornton-Bott will only see patients that are referred to him when HE is On Call. The Fracture Clinic Receptionist Narelle will contact you with an appointment after you are referred from ED after your attendance there. ALL other fracture referrals should be made to Dr. Thornton-Bott’s rooms on 1300 208899 or Fax 02 8901 4305.
What about Casts and Xrays?
Acute fractures will be treated FREE OF CHARGE in ED and the Fracture Clinic. At the two week point when a definitive cast is usually applied, a waterproof, lightweight cast can be requested at a small extra cost.
If you have external Xrays/Scans in hard copy PLEASE BRING THEM WITH YOU TO THE CLINIC.
Subsequent cast changes/removal and X-rays will be provided by external Physiotherapy and Imaging services and will incur a charge. These will be explained to you at the fracture clinic.
What is the waiting time for Surgery?
NSW Health regulations dictate a 365 day waiting time for routine operations. So if you have progressive arthritis of your knee or hip that has failed non-operative measures then you will be placed on the waiting list for a joint replacement. Once the booking is made and the forms submitted, you will wait 11-12 months for your surgery. This is known as a Category C waiting. Some patients have rapidly advancing and severe arthritis or other conditions that causes significant disability. Such patients should not wait 12 months for their surgery and Dr. Thornton-Bott will identify these patients as being more urgent. They will be given a more urgent category, Cat B, and their surgery will usually be within 90 days. The criteria for Cat B is very strict and only a few patients will fall into this category. Very urgent cases that do not fall under the umbrella of ‘Emergency’ can be admitted for surgery within 30 days, or Cat A. For example, some sports injuries should be treated quickly to prevent long term disability.
Nobody wants to see patients struggling with pain and disability. Dr. Thornton-Bott, his colleagues and all the healthcare personnel would love to be able to offer you an operation within a week or so, but the constraints of a limited Public Healthcare system simply do not allow this. Waiting times have improved over the last decade but with a growing population these waiting times are unlikely to change soon. Dr. Thornton-Bott will ensure you get the correct Category for your operation and ensure that you have everything available to ensure that the time you wait for your surgery is as comfortable as possible.