Mayor Liz Campbell

From the Mayor's desk
Week commencing 4 November 2019Mayor Liz Campbell

New doctors welcomed

As our community ages and grows, the challenge of having enough medical services available throughout the Macleay increases. I have had letters, conversations and first-hand experience of just how difficult it is to get an appointment with a GP locally.

This issue of a GP shortage unfortunately isn’t unique to our Valley. With a highly regulated system and a market where we compete with cities to attract GPs or medical graduates, it is a challenge that frustrates me and at times can be overwhelming.

I had the privilege recently of meeting two new GPs who have just started seeing patients under supervision at the Seascape Medical Centre at South West Rocks. Practice Manager, Wafaa Malek, supervising GP, Dr Belinda White, and the two new recruits, Dr Sadaf Hussain and Dr Mohsina Ahmed, are an inspiring group of women. After a three-year recruitment search, together they are providing a desperately needed service while confronting the complex and restrictive system, including the negative impacts of recent cuts to the Medicare rebate.

The passion that the new doctors have for their studies and their patients is uplifting, and the opportunity to work with older patients is providing a vital learning experience. Both new doctors are mothers and have made enormous sacrifices to work here, and I was honoured to thank them on behalf of our community.

Two additional doctors aren’t enough and there is more to be done. Council is part of a working group including the Rural Doctors Network, Primary Health Network and the Local Health District along with other agencies who are looking for ways to attract registrars and doctors to the area.

Among all these government agencies I can represent, on behalf of our community, the real-life impact a GP shortage has on our residents. Unfortunately, there is no quick fix. But as a community, if we are welcoming to new professionals by providing support in accessing services like schools, work for spouses and accommodation, we can make a transition to our area a positive experience for medical professionals and attract additional doctors to the Macleay.

The Seascape Medical Centre team with Mayor Campbell and Coordinator Marilyn Breen.The Seascape Medical Centre team comprising of Practice Manager, Wafaa Malek, supervising GP, Dr Belinda White, and new recruits, Dr Sadaf Hussain and Dr Mohsina Ahmed with myself and Marilyn Breen, Council’s Coordinator Economic Development and Tourism.