Ac­tion needed

Govt. urged to help end crit­i­cal doc­tor short­age

Deniliquin Pastoral Times - - FRONT PAGE -

The Fed­eral Govern­ment is be­ing called on to ad­dress the crit­i­cal on­go­ing doc­tor short­age in De­niliquin.

A pe­ti­tion, spear­headed by De­niliquin doc­tor Ian Dum­brell, will urge the govern­ment to re­clas­sify the area as hav­ing a District of Work­force Short­age.

This would al­low lo­cal health providers to ac­cess over­seas trained doc­tors to fill the short­age.

Res­i­dents have been forced to seek treat­ment in other towns for most of this year, as lo­cal doc­tors are phys­i­cally un­able to see more pa­tients.

Dr Dum­brell says it could be an­other six months be­fore the ap­peal is dealt with by govern­ment bod­ies, prompt­ing him to take im­me­di­ate ac­tion.

‘‘A lack of doc­tors causes hard­ships for the en­tire com­mu­nity, but es­pe­cially for pa­tients,’’ he said.

Based on ac­cess to Medi­care ser­vices com­pared to the na­tional av­er­age, the Fed­eral Govern­ment’s district work short­age cri­te­ria doesn’t con­sider De­niliquin dis­ad­van­taged enough to have ac­cess to over­seas trained doc­tors.

‘‘We can re­cruit Aus­tralian med­i­cal grad­u­ates, but there aren’t enough of them — our high school stu­dents go away to Mel­bourne or Bendigo, and it’s hard for them to come back,’’ Dr Dum­brell said.

‘‘If we are clas­si­fied as a district with a work­force short­age, we will have ac­cess to in­ter­na­tional med­i­cal grad­u­ates (IMG).’’

Eric Sim Phar­macy owner Eric Sim said the pe­ti­tion a first vi­tal step in im­prov­ing De­niliquin’s live­abil­ity.

‘‘It’s im­por­tant at this stage be­cause a lot of new res­i­dents can’t see doc­tors and have been forced to go to the emer­gency de­part­ment, which puts more pres­sure on the nurses,’’ he said.

‘‘The short­age has also put more pres­sure on our doc­tors be­cause there is a three or four week wait­ing list for cur­rent pa­tients just to see one.

‘‘It’s not good for the town be­cause peo­ple won’t come here and it’s in­con­ve­nient to have to travel just to see a doc­tor.’’

Dr Dum­brell said he has al­ready col­lected about 600 sig­na­tures. He is hop­ing for many more over the next four to six weeks, be­fore the pe­ti­tion is posted to the Fed­eral Par­lia­ment’s Stand­ing Com­mit­tee on Pe­ti­tions.

‘‘A cou­ple of thou­sand sig­na­tures would send a very strong mes­sage, and we’re hop­ing to get busi­nesses in­volved,’’ he said.

Dr Dum­brell said an­other pos­si­ble longterm av­enue for re­cruit­ment in­cluded sup­port­ing ru­ral hos­pi­tals to train more in­terns.

‘‘If we of­fered more in­tern pro­grams, med­i­cal grad­u­ates would be more likely to come here,’’ he said.

‘‘It would also pro­vide over­seas med­i­cal stu­dents an op­por­tu­nity for train­ing in Aus­tralia, and of­fers an in­cen­tive for peo­ple to have ex­tended skills.’’

An of­fi­cial de­ci­sion re­gard­ing De­niliquin’s work­force clas­si­fi­ca­tion will be made in Fe­bru­ary 2018.

The pe­ti­tion can be signed at Eric Sim Phar­macy, Soul Pat­tin­son Phar­macy and the De­niliquin Cen­tral Clinic.

Eric Sim and Dr Ian Dum­brell are urg­ing peo­ple to sign the pe­ti­tion to help end the doc­tor short­age.

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