Achieving clinical independence in a corporate environment

By Dr Kevin Bullen, Chief Clinical Officer at Healius 

I began my clinical career surrounded by the beautiful landscape of Wales, where I studied medicine at Cardiff University. After graduation I found my way to Bridgend, a small town Cardiff where I immediately fell in love with the strong sense of community that is so typical of that part of the world. The UK National Health Service provided me with a strong foundation to begin my career as a GP, and helped to shape the doctor I am today. It gave me a patient focused approach to clinical care, and working in practice that retains a strong sense of community remains my first love, even as I have extended my career into a more corporate environment.
 
After 13 years of working in the public health service in Britain, I made the decision to move to Australia to start a new life. I had to get used to a new country, climate and customs, and a completely new medical system. After many years of working in public health service, I had begun to understand its benefits and its limitations. I have always insisted on putting my patients first, and while I was able to provide high-quality and affordable healthcare in the Australian Medicare-funded environment, in previous practices I was often slowed down by bureaucracy or a lack of resources.

I have always insisted on putting my patients first, and while I was able to provide high-quality and affordable healthcare in the Australian Medicare-funded environment, in previous practices I was often slowed down by bureaucracy or a lack of resources.

My decision to join Primary Health Care was a balance of several key factors. If I was to join a corporate healthcare I still wanted to continue my patient-first philosophy. Additionally, I have a firm belief that every patient has a right to excellent healthcare, regardless of their financial circumstances. In both of these regards, Primary mirrored my beliefs. The vast majority of consultations are bulk-billed, and the patient always comes first.

Additionally, I have a firm belief that every patient has a right to excellent healthcare, regardless of their financial circumstances. In both of these regards, Primary mirrored my beliefs.

In any profession, be it as a plumber or a pianist, you need the best tools and resources to do your job to the best of your ability. My decision to become a part of the team at Primary was eased by the knowledge that I would have a wide range of support in providing the best clinical care possible. Every GP understands the need for a strong support team to help them in providing treatment to patients. From my first day at Primary, I have been helped by excellent nurses and practice managers. This allows me to focus on what doctors do best – helping our patients.
 
It has been a number of years since I started my clinical journey with Primary. In my current role as Chief Clinical Officer I’m responsible for ensuring the highest quality clinical standards amongst our network of practitioners, and engaging with teams and individuals to ensure they get the support they need to deliver the possible best medical care.
 
Sometimes I get asked about how it is possible to maintain clinical independence while working in a corporate environment. All corporate environments are different, but at Primary we are dedicated to creating an environment where sharing skills and experience is encouraged and supported. At a local level, each of our centres has a Lead Independent Doctor who is responsible for clinical standards, facilitating peer learning and providing professional development. This is paramount to maintaining the clinical independence of our doctors.

All corporate environments are different, but at Primary we are dedicated to creating an environment where sharing skills and experience is encouraged and supported.

I enjoy speaking to our talented GPs across the country and hearing why they decided to work with Primary. The reasons always vary, but are no less compelling. Some of our doctors wanted a change in environment and others value our commitment to multi-disciplinary medical centres. If they need to consult a radiologist or a physiotherapist, they are often only a few footsteps away. All of the doctors are bound by a common philosophy; they want to provide the best possible care for their patients.
 
I still work as a GP one day a week at our Warringah Medical and Dental Centre which gives me an opportunity to do what I love most; to work with my patients. Over the years, I have built up a great relationship with many of the people who have been kind enough to trust me with their clinical care, and it is a privilege to work with each of them. By working as a GP, I am sensitive to the pressures that doctors face, and also the huge rewards that the job can offer. My move to Primary helped me to grow as a doctor in ways I could never have imagined, and I am incredibly excited about our future. Where I work was only ever governed by one thing – providing the best possible care for my patients so each of them can be health and well – and that has never changed.
 
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