West Coast health professionals had the opportunity this week to provide insight for the president of the Australian Medical Association in South Australia (AMASA) Dr Chris Moy and chief executive officer Dr Samantha Mead about healthcare issues in the region.
Dr Moy and Dr Mead met with doctors, health practitioners, local government and community leaders in Port Lincoln, Streaky Bay and Ceduna on Wednesday and Thursday.
Streaky Bay Medical Clinic board chairperson Jonas Woolford contacted Dr Moy earlier in the year after he was appointed AMASA president and said he arranged for the visit to make him more aware of what was happening in the region.
Dr Moy said the visit was a "show of support" for the region and that there was a serious problem across Eyre Peninsula which needed to be addressed.
"My perception has been reinforced that there's a serious problem, and it is growing into a desperate situation," he said.
"There is an abandonment of the health system, and a real unfairness which is leading to a situation where people are not getting health care, which is dangerous."
Dr Moy said there was not an understanding in Adelaide of the difficulties Eyre Peninsula towns faced, citing the current situation at Streaky Bay as they hunt for a permanent doctor.
"In the city people complain about waiting times and not being able to see their preferred doctor," he said.
"In Streaky Bay they go to sleep without a doctor, and there has been incredible community commitment to bringing a doctor there.
"In the city they complain about little things, but the community doesn't take responsibility like in country areas."
Dr Moy said the Eyre Peninsula situation could not simply be blamed on the current state government, rather it was a "result of at least 15 years of system failure".
He said funding and interaction with services had been "horrendous".
Dr Moy said the model for recruiting doctors, and how doctors worked within country areas, had changed from the days of a community doctor being on call 24 hours a day for seven days.
He said the government developing the Rural Health Workforce Strategy had promise, but would need progress from the planning phase.
"The world has changed and there needs to be a different model as the one, 24/7 doctor doesn't happen anymore," he said.
"I have said to the Health Minister there needs to be funding to implement the plan, and we need to see money spent.
"They need to do the right thing by these communities, who are not getting what they deserve."
Dr Moy said highlighting issues in regional areas was the first step, but bodies had to come together to resolve those issues.
Mr Woolford said the visit would help drum up support for Eyre Peninsula, and Dr Moy would assist with any advice and support moving forward.