Deniliquin Pastoral Times
Stuck in tug of war
Deniliquin doctor says hospital pulls her away from GP clinic ‘five times a day’
While speaking at a rural health forum, Deniliquin doctor Marion Magee revealed the local hospital would often call her away from her GP practice five times a day, leaving her private patients to sit and wait.
“And I’ve been doing that for 35 years,” Dr Magee said of the hospital/GP tug-of-war.
“We are trying to ride two horses, we are riding a health service that is run by federal and state.”
The rural health forum was held in Griffith on Friday, May 13, and was pulled together by Member for Murray Helen Dalton to discuss the unfolding health crisis.
Dr Magee said the abolishment of local hospital boards in the 1990s had contributed to the collapse of regional health.
“We were told ‘it’s all right, big brother will look after you’. Big brother hasn’t looked after us,” she said.
According to the NSW Rural Doctor Network, there were over 800 rural generalists in 2011. By 2021, there were less than 200.
At the forum, NSW health minister Brad Hazzard admitted the hospital/GP and state/ federal divide in health was a “constitutional problem”.
“If we imagine NSW Health as a patient, let’s be honest, it’s two o’clock in the morning, they are in a resus room and I’m firing up the paddles ready to give them a shock and I’m considering intubation. This is a seriously sick patient,” Dr Marion Magee (Deniliquin Clinic principal GP) said. “But I’m also telling you, my country colleagues and I, there is no way we’re going to let that patient die.”
Rural and Remote Medical Services chief executive Mark Burdack said fifty years ago doctors were moving into regional towns because they were respected and ran the hospitals.
“Now doctors are the lowest order of people in a system that’s run out of a metropolitan hospital model,” Mr Burdack said.
“(GPs) hate working in the hospital system because they are disrespected, bullied and harassed.”
During the forum Dr Magee rebuked repeated calls for consultation and talk of creating more bureaucratic jobs at the top to oversee the system.
“I’m hearing this word ‘consultation’ a lot. We don’t want consultation,” she said.
“We want accountability and control. We don’t want a token consultation process which is basically a time-waste and an insult.”
There was some light at the end of the tunnel however, with Dr Magee discussing the success of Murrumbidgee Local Health District’s new rural graduate training program.
“Up until now there was no pathway for someone to become a rural generalist,” Dr Magee said.
“It’s working really well and our practice has been guaranteed a steady flow of registrars and we’re hoping some will stay.”
Melbourne University has also started a rural training program in Shepparton.
The rural health forum can be watched in full on Helen Dalton’s Facebook page.