Eyre Peninsula mayors question federal doctor boost

More doctors, nurses and allied health professionals have been promised for rural areas across Australia over the next 10 years as part of the federal government’s $550-million Stronger Rural Health Strategy, but local community leaders have questioned whether there will be any boost for Eyre Peninsula.

The strategy is expected to deliver about 3000 additional doctors for rural Australia as well as more than 3000 nurses and hundreds of allied health professionals.

Federal Member for Grey Rowan Ramsey said the strategy was expected to recruit more doctors in rural areas.

“We will be funding more incentives for doctors and nursing staff,” Mr Ramsey said.

“Unfortunately, the call of the city is stronger than rural areas for doctors.

“We will also be providing doctors with the opportunity to upskill doctors operating as general practitioners (GPs).”

Australian Medical Association (AMA) South Australia regional representative Dr John Williams said the strategy would help the Eyre Peninsula.

“I can’t say more positive things about the strategy, any support for rural doctors in great, ” Dr Williams said.

Dr Williams said the association was looking at a number of different models for rural health.

“Younger doctors expect different things so the traditional solo doctor is not a model that’s sustainable,” he said.

Eastern Eyre Health Advisory Council president and Kimba Mayor Dean Johnson said while the government’s investment and commitment was welcomed, the strategy failed to address the situation a number of Eyre Peninsula communities were facing without a permanent GP.

“Regional South Australian towns, including Kimba, are crying out about this issue, which has reached epidemic proportions and has the very real potential to affect the livability of these areas,” he said.

Streaky Bay mayor Travis Barber mirrored Mr Johnson’s concerns and said Streaky Bay, like many communities across Eyre Peninsula, have been forced to use ratepayer money to keep medical services active.

“I can’t fathom how a town like Streaky Bay has to look for a GP for its hospital and fund its own medical clinic without any help,” he said.

“We are providing, at ratepayers’ cost at the moment, locom doctors at $2000 a day, supplying a house, supplying a car, to keep our clinic open.”

Mr Barber said federal ministers for health and rural health should come to the next Eyre Peninsula Local Government Association meeting so they could hear about health service issues, not just from Streaky Bay but other councils across Eyre Peninsula.