Central Qld doctor shortage highlighted
HE was to lead the peak health industry body president on a fact-finding tour of the Central Highlands, but Dr Ewen McPhee was confined to the Emerald Hospital delivering a baby on Wednesday.
Although a standard occurrence for the only non-specialist GP obstetrician in town, Dr McPhee’s double-duty highlighted to Australian Medical Association Queensland president Dr Richard Kidd the dire skills shortage of doctors in the region.
Accommodation shortage, attraction and retention of specialist-skilled doctors, and training opportunities are “hurdles” that must be overcome, Dr Kidd said.
“The doctors at the hospitals have told me they could use another 30 doctors,” he said.
“That gives me some idea of how bad it is. Dr McPhee is the reality of a country GP having some sort of specialist skill, and that is supporting the hospital.”
Dr Kidd toured Blackwater, Emerald and Springsure to witness firsthand the skills shortage the region is struggling to cope with.
“I’m really impressed with how hard the doctors are working and they are a very dedicated group,” he said.
“But there’s clearly a need for more specialist staff.”
Dr McPhee, the president of Rural Doctors Association of Queensland and the back-up for the only full-time obstetrician at the Emerald Hospital, called for better economic co-operation from the federal and state governments to understand the health situation and deliver much needed support for administrators who “really try and turn things around” on a local level.
“The concern is that people don’t see the value in putting the money in, they just see it as a cost,” Dr McPhee said.
“That’s a corporate, city-based perception of the situation that there can’t be that many people out here that need to see a doctor, and they can’t require that much support and services.”