GPs band together to create in house ECEC service
The Sector > Provider > General News > GPs band together to create in house ECEC service as shortages persist

GPs band together to create in house ECEC service as shortages persist

by Freya Lucas

June 12, 2023
Childcare toys and games

Doctors in a south-west Victorian clinic have taken the unusual step of seeking an in-house early childhood educator to provide care for their children to combat the dual challenges of a spike in demand for healthcare, and a lack of early childhood education and care (ECEC) spaces in their community. 


Of the eight doctors and nurses who service patients through Active Health Portland, six have preschool aged children, however they can’t access enough hours of ECEC to allow them to work the hours they need to to support the community. 


Staff are relying on partners and older family members for care, but those options are limited, and for the clinic’s clinical director Marg Garde, something had to give. 


“We are not the only employer [in Portland] experiencing a threat to its workforce due to the lack of childcare,” Dr Garde told the ABC


“Obstacles to accessing childcare exist for everyone and we acknowledge that this problem is multifactorial, complex and widespread.”


There are no longer any family day care (FDC) providers in Portland, and it has been challenging for many in the community to find the care they need. 


Active Health Portland GP Brittany Butten said the lack of ECEC options affected the hours she could work and the number of patients she could treat.


“I am booked months in advance and it’s heartbreaking seeing my patients either struggle awaiting our appointments together or worse,” she said.


“I am doing my best to fit patients in but the reality is there are only so many hours available, even with my partner working less hours to accommodate my career.”


There is a 12 month waiting list for care at Goodstart Early Learning Portland and director Jess Hutchins said demand is definitely high. 


The service has the staff it needs to operate, and is running at capacity, and Ms Hutchins believes another facility is needed to meet demand. 


Access the original coverage of this story here.

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