Locum funding ‘ wonderful news’
Continued from Health cover between 800 and 1000 transfers of pregnant women had been avoided in this way. ‘‘ One recent locum saved in just two weeks an amount equal to the entire cost of running the scheme,’’ he said.
Pieter Mourik, a retired Albury obstetrician, was the first doctor to provide locum relief under the SOLS scheme, and said the extension was ‘‘ wonderful news’’.
He travelled to the West Australian mining town of Kalgoorlie to provide the first SOLS locum in November last year. Since then he has done two more locum stints under the scheme, in Sale, Victoria, and Wangaratta.
Mourik said the Government ‘‘ has to be congratulated’’ and said the scheme would probably keep him in the workforce for another five years.
‘‘ It’s an absolutely essential service, and it will keep the poor buggers [in rural areas] going,’’ he said. ‘‘ The doctor in Kalgoorlie is 60, and he’s on-call 24 hours a day — he desperately needs help. This essential for rural practice.
‘‘ In a town with a couple of obstetricians, if one goes away for two or three weeks, the other is on-call 24 hours a day. This is unsafe — no-one should be expected to work those hours. It’s unviable.’’
Other towns that have already benefited from a SOLS-funded locum include Wagga Wagga, Warrnambool, Goulburn, Nowra, Derby, Port Augusta, Port Pirie and Gladstone.
Pioneer: Pieter Mourik, the first locum provided under the scheme, went to Kalgoorlie. He has done two placements since, in rural Victoria