Small towns need doctors
Streaky Bay is a small town on the West Coast of Eyre Peninsula with a population of around 2000 in the district council area with large influx of tourists through-out the year.
Our nearest town with the doctor services we once had are Ceduna which a more than 200-kilometre round trip, Port Lincoln 600kms or Whyalla which is more than 800kms.
Whilst our town and many other smaller country towns struggle to get a GP the doctor shortage situation in many small communities at this time is very worrying for all concerned.
The morale of the whole town is shaken, our elderly are anxious, concerned and worried having to travel long distances for care and services and most are too old to do it, or too sick to travel with no public transport available.
Businesses are affected as we are being sent to regional centres for services we once had, so shopping is being done in those towns.
I say to all in power, stop worrying about the regional centres they will always be okay, look to our rural and remote areas and give us back what we once had.
The transforming health agenda of the previous government has been the start of the problems and demise of care/services, beds etc in smaller country towns.
Skills of health professionals are not able to be utilised so why, if you have studied and trained for seven years, would you come to these places if you are not able to use them? The same goes for nurses who train for three to four years.
Country Health has been another layer of bureaucracy that has been useless in helping smaller areas in my opinion.
Women having babies are having to travel and stay away for considerable time invoking stress, costs and guilt.
All this despite the vast improvement in technology.
Litigation and occupational health and safety has been a huge barrier for all concerned despite the fact we can never guarantee a perfect outcome.
Why are we creating more barriers for people and causing more problems by trying to cater for all situations, despite the fact they may never occur?
Whilst being very appreciative of the locum doctors, we desperately need a permanent doctor.
The words ‘work-life balance’ need to be addressed in all areas of employment but surely having a job, and making a difference to our own and other people’s lives must be a factor in pursuing employment. What you put in is often what you get out of your job.
How far out of whack have we got with the caliber of students and the training of those aspiring to practice medicine and become a country GP?
This career path used to have the mantra of looking after a community from the cradle to the grave, and led their skills to great heights.
They also became revered members of our country towns enjoying all aspects of their job.
I don’t believe throwing more money at this problem is the answer.
How is this demise of services and care in many of our small towns in this so called enlightened age happening?
Country caring has the huge benefits of continuity and familiarity, and even just getting back some of the aspects of this type of care would bring benefits.
Our community has formed a board of management for this medical practice.
These eight people are giving their time, pursuing every avenue to attract the appointment of a permanent doctor.
I implore those in positions of power, like the health department and rural doctors associations, to give the required financial and moral support necessary to assist them in this important role so this practice can be independent and self sufficient in the long term.