Doctors in Secondary Schools

Doctors in Secondary Schools

The Victorian Government is ensuring young people get the health support, advice and treatment they need to reach their full potential. The $43.8 million Doctors in Secondary Schools initiative provides school-based health services for 100 Victorian secondary schools most in need.

What is the Doctors in Secondary Schools initiative?

The initiative provides modern clinical facilities onsite at schools and funds up to one day (4 hours) per week for a General Practitioner (GP) and Division 1 Practice Nurse (7.6 hours) to provide both primary care for students and contribute to the school's existing student wellbeing programs to help increase health literacy and preventive health. Clinics opened in the first 20 schools during Term 1, 2017. From Term 3, 2017, another 40 are opening, with the final 40 starting from Term 1, 2018.

The objectives of the program are to:

  • make primary health care more accessible to students and thereby help reduce unmet needs
  • provide assistance to young people to identify and address any health problems early
  • reduce the pressure on working parents and community-based GPs

The initiative recognises that adolescents are often the lowest users of health care services and can experience significant unmet physical and mental health needs which in turn can affect their engagement with education. Doctors in Secondary Schools is making a valuable contribution toward achieving the education state school targets for happy, healthy and resilient kids by improving ease of access to health services for young people.

The program is guided by a range of key principles:

  • equity of access
  • no cost of access to the student
  • youth friendly and staff in trained adolescent-health
  • student confidentiality
  • cultural safety

The program was developed in consultation and collaboration with a broad range of stakeholders across government, health and education institutions, and academia.

How will the service work?

The Victorian Government secondary schools selected for this pilot program are working together with local general practices to enable primary health care services to be delivered on school premises. GPs will attend the school for up to one day a week to assist students to identify and address any health problems early. School-based primary care services not only address issues faced in the supply of care, but are used to raise health awareness among young people, including awareness about how to seek care within the school and community. The services  operate according to World Health Organisation standards for quality youth focused care.

All secondary school students who are enrolled in the participating Victorian Government secondary school are able to access the GP, subject to providing the requisite consent for the services. The Doctors in Secondary Schools program is not intended to replace existing relationships with family doctors or fragment healthcare support, but rather to supplement, or provide access to a GP in areas where access is limited, or for students without an existing GP. Where young people have existing relationships with GPs,  the school-based GP will liaise with the existing GP so they can provide the best support possible.

School-based GPs are paid through the initiative for their work in the schools, and consultations are  bulk-billed through Medicare; there are no out-of-pocket expenses for consultations with the GP on the school premises.

How is this initiative being coordinated?

The Department of Education and Training (DET) is working with Victoria's six Primary Health Networks (PHNs) to engage general practices in their catchments to provide suitably experienced GPs to work with participating schools. The role of PHNs is to increase the efficiency and effectiveness of medical services for patients, particularly those at risk of poor health outcomes, and improving coordination of care to ensure patients receive the right care in the right place at the right time. PHNs  support the GPs in schools to be integrated with community-based primary care services to enable best-practice patient-centred care. PHNs  also work with DET to ensure GPs receive the best quality evidence-based training before starting their work in the school, as well as ongoing professional development and debriefing on various important topics GPs will encounter working within schools.

Murray PHN operates from Mildura in Victoria's North West to Woodend in the South, across to Seymour and up to Albury - an area of almost 100,000 square kilometres that is home to more than 560,000 people. Working in partnership with General Practitioners, major hospitals, community leaders, health services and other health providers, Murray PHN focuses on both national and local health priorities, with the welfare of the patient always front of mind.

Of the 100 schools selected for this program 22 are in Murray PHN communities.

Drs in Schools Timeline

The Doctors in Secondary Schools program has a staggered rollout with GP services in the Murray PHN region commencing across three phases:

Phase 1                     20 schools will commence during Term 1, 2017 (from February 2017)
Phase 2                     40 schools will commence during Term 3, 2017 (from July 2017)
Phase 3                     40 schools will commence during Term 1, 2018 (from January 2018)

Click here for a list of the 22 schools in the Murray PHN region, and the recruitment status.

Click here for a complete list of the 100 selected schools in Victoria.

Click here for a map of the 22 schools in the Murray PHN region.

Funding Supports available for Medical Centre providers

There are two support payments available under the program based on 40 weeks of delivery (school terms only). The GP Incentive payment and the Medical Centre Support Payments. Click here for information on both support payments.

Participating schools have been provided with modern fit-for-purpose GP consultation facilities.
Click here for a full list of infrastructure and equipment that will be provided.
Click here for a list of school term dates.

For more information

Murray PHN GPs in Schools Coordinator

Doctors in Secondary Schools: DET website

Doctors in Secondary Schools Operational Guidelines v2.1 December 2017


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