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Our Region, Our People: Meet Dr Sam

Published 30 May 2024

VIP GP helps patients in Ingham access primary health care via telehealth and face-to-face consultations

Dr Sam Fath, from Brisbane, is the new VIP GP at the Ingham Family Medical Practice, which is participating in the Virtual Integrated Practice (VIP) program.

Ingham Family Medical Practice is the first North Queensland clinic to offer the Virtual Integrated Practice (VIP) program, welcoming Dr Sam Fath from Brisbane to their team. 

The workforce program places an additional general practitioner (GP) into an already-established practice team, in person at least every six months to meet and support patients and then via telehealth to further support the same patients. 

Northern Queensland Primary Health Network (NQPHN) has partnered with Health Workforce Queensland, the University of Queensland, and Mater Research Institute to offer the VIP program to support the rural GP workforce and build practice sustainability.  

The program is now available for northern Queensland rural or remote practices located in MMM4-7 regions. 

Dr Sam, known as the VIP GP at the Ingham practice, resides and works in Brisbane, recently making his second trip to Ingham to visit the practice and his patients face to face. 

“We have had good feedback about the VIP program,” Dr Sam said. 

“Some patients still prefer the face-to-face appointments, however, one of the greatest healthcare challenges in rural areas is ensuring patients have timely access to a doctor and, in this regard, I think we provide a very important service through the VIP program.” 

Dr Sam said working successfully with patients via telehealth was a testament to the professionalism and engagement of the Ingham Family Medical Practice team.  

“I owe a great debt of gratitude to the team. I think they are doing an amazing job in facilitating the program,” Dr Sam said.  

“For me, it’s a fantastic opportunity to practice rural medicine, while also having access to the amenities associated with living in a city. 

“I really enjoy the unique rural setting that Ingham has as I get a mix of country Australian and Italian cultures – and I can enjoy homemade pasta and a chicken schnitzel in the same day when I am up visiting!” 

Ingham Family Medical Practice Manager Jessica Lavarini said the VIP program and working with Dr Sam was a positive experience. 

“The team enjoys working with Dr Sam. He’s easy to deal with and willing to give anything a go. Patients have reported he is easy to talk to and a good listener,” she said. 

Ms Lavarini said the team has been proactive in encouraging patients to try a telehealth consultation with Dr Sam. 

“Many patients who have participated have enjoyed the telehealth experience and have booked a follow-up appointment with him,” she said.   

“He can sign documents digitally and then print them automatically to a printer at reception for the staff to give to the patient.   

“The ability to have a doctor who can see patients for injections, UTIs and alike takes the pressure off our other GPs, so they have more time to see patients who need a full clinical assessment.”   

Practices interested in the VIP program can find more information here.  

To participate in the program, submit an expression of interest (EOI) here

Last updated: 30 May 2024