First published with The Advocate –

Feature image: Dylan Burns

Springs Medical Centre will deliver new services for patients suffering chronic illnesses, following the announcement of federal government funding last fortnight.

Chronic illness patients at Springs Medical’s Trentham and Daylesford centres will be able to access services to help them better manage their conditions in July.

The new services come under the federal government’s $5.3 million investment into chronic illness services for western Victoria.

Western Victoria Primary Health Network said consultation has shown chronic conditions were a major health concern for the community.

Senator for Victoria Jane Hume said people suffering from diabetes, cardiovascular disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, asthma and musculoskeletal conditions will receive help.

“Chronic diseases are on the rise and can be debilitating to a person and seriously affect their quality of life,” she said.

“The new services will help patients in varying ways including treatment, education about their illness, help with self-management, and better co-ordination of their care.”

Director of Springs Medical Centre Dr Jonathan Barrell said the services will be a new level of preventative health for patients with chronic disease.

“The aim is to be able to intervene better and sooner,” he said.

“In particular it will enable us to work with an exercise physiologist as well as our current range of allied health assistants. It will make quality nutrition advice more accessible and more affordable and the multidisciplinary model should help patients to achieve great goals.

“We hope patients will be motivated to exercise more and better and that should lead to better outcomes with chronic heart disease and chronic respiratory disease.”

Dr Barrell said chronic disease affects the individual’s quality of life and affects their ability to perform usual activities of daily living.

“It also affects them socially, in terms of being able to participate in normal social activities.

“Through an education and fitness program we are confident that those people with chronic disease will be able to do more, improve their quality of life, improve their illness, and reduce the likelihood of hospital care.

“Hepburn Shire has a population of about 15,000. Springs Medical Centre has several thousand regular patients and within that we would say over a thousand patients in the heart disease and respiratory diseases.”

About half of all Australians have a chronic disease, and around 20 per cent have two or more, according to statistics from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare.