Case study: Expanding Sunbury Medical Centre

Artist's impression of Sunbury Medical Centre
  29 June 2020  NWMPHN   

Sunbury and the surrounding Hume local government area are in a period of unprecedented population growth. This presents challenges for the local community and the health care providers who provide their care.

To keep pace with the rapidly increasing demand for primary health care services in the area, Sunbury Medical Centre has recently undergone a significant transformation. The centre has been operating for nearly 20 years; in this time the Sunbury area has grown by more than 10,000 people, with many more to come.

Sunbury Medical Centre has recently completed its expansion and now boasts a well-equipped, seven-bay emergency treatment room to go with its 32 GP consulting rooms. We spoke with Neville Moller, the centre’s business manager, about the expansion of the practice. 

Neville Moller: We have developed a one-stop medical complex for our patients with nearly all medical services related to a comprehensive general medical practice located in the one facility.

“The services include more than 20 GPs, visiting specialists in most disciplines including physiotherapy, psychology, podiatry, dietetics, chiropractic, cardiology, workplace law, pharmacy, pathology, aesthetics and a new radiology unit including computerised tomography (CT).”

The centre is now a comprehensive modern medical facility, with doctors and patients able to access many medical and other specialists in one location. The facility has ample free onsite parking and an automatic boom gate system that provides extra security for patients who leave their cars unattended. These and other upgrades have presented challenges for Neville’s team.

Neville Moller: I suppose with any building project of this size and nature there are always issues to be overcome but in the main the building project went as well as could be expected. The wholesale power company was the most challenging entity to engage and held us up. Issues with pharmacy PBS licencing was another issue due to government regulation and there was a delay in getting radiology in place.

“We were able to overcome these challenges, but it did take more than 12 months to resolve. It was all worthwhile in the end for our doctors and patients. Not much could have been done differently.”

The practice has an attached training centre, which it operates in partnership with Murray City Country Coast GP Training and provides opportunities for GP registrars to complete six-month general practice placements. Despite the coronavirus pandemic, the practice has continued to grow over the last 12 months.

Neville Moller: “The staff are happy in the new surrounds. Feedback from our registrars is also very positive due to the design of the training consulting area and their access to their supervisors. We have recruited a number of new doctors to the practice due to the facilities, which speaks highly of it.”

The centre and its team are now moving into a new period of growth and quality improvement. For Neville and his team, this is reward for their enormous effort in recent years. As Melbourne’s population continues to boom, other practices in our region will be preparing for similar expansions and can learn from the experiences of practices like Sunbury Medical Centre.

Neville Moller: “Have a sound business plan and an established medical practice behind you. Start now as it takes a number of years to get to this point. Planning, finance, design, permits and regulations for a new greenfield project have a long lead time. Perform due diligence as to what services you are able to provide in your complex, for example: pharmacy.”

Ultimately, the hard work has paid off and is resulting in better, person-centred care for the Sunbury community.

Neville Moller: “It has been very positive feedback from our patients – old and new.”