Patients to fight GP’s exile from medical profession

Paul Bartusek
Paul Bartusek

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PATIENTS of embattled Wagga GP Paul Bartusek have rallied behind the “thorough, caring and compassionate” health professional during his darkest hour. 

The local doctor will face the fight of his career as he tries to overturn a government decision to terminate his Medicare provider number – rendering him jobless. 

In a stunning show of solidarity, the community has offered to “return the favour” to the seasoned practitioner. 

Mary Bartusek, his wife, will launch a petition calling for her husband to be reinstated at the Wagga Medical Centre. 

Since The Daily Advertiser reported of Dr Bartusek’s banishment from the profession, his long-time patients have expressed their fury at the decision. 

After enduring a problematic pregnancy and premature childbirth, Trish O'Brien relied on the Wagga practitioner to help her and her newborn son through a series of medical issues. 

She has vowed to help Dr Bartusek to try return the favour. 

“He has watched my kids grow up and he's one doctor who doesn't push you out the door quickly – he’s extremely thorough,” she said. 

“He's been very helpful throughout everything and I couldn't ask for a more efficient doctor.

“He needs his job back and I'm happy to help him like he has helped me medically.”

Brad Lipscombe struggled to comprehend how such a helpful doctor could be forced from the industry. 

“He was very thorough and always had concern and compassion for his patients,” he said.

“Easily the best doctor I have had in years.”

It comes as new details have emerged regarding what led to Dr Bartusek’s provider number being cancelled. 

According to the Department of Health, Mr Bartusek requested to extend his participation in the Special Approved Placements Program (SAPP) but was denied because he did not meet Australian criterion. 

It claims Mr Bartusek was required to transition to a training pathway offered by the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) because he failed a practice examination in 2016. 

Instead of choosing to undertake the certified Health Department training, he enrolled to undertake GP Registrar training. 

“Your prior extension granted April 24 2006 gave you until April 24 2017 to pass the RACGP exam,” a spokesperson told Dr Bartusek. 

“I also note a condition of this extension is that you must transition if you were unsuccessful in obtaining the Fellowship of the RACGP through the assessment process.

Despite the claims, Wagga Medical Centre patient Neil Fortescue believes Dr Bartusek was “excelling” in his position. 

“The other thing he would do was bulk bill patients that he knew were struggling to make ends meet,” he said.

“The government spend millions trying to recruit doctors to move to the bush, and they have one that's excelling and they do this to him.”

It comes amid calls for the Murray Darling Medical School to be established as a solution to the Riverina’s dire shortage of GP’s.