Middlemount medical centre closes
MIDDLEMOUNT residents face uncertainty over doctor services while Anglo American establishes a new medical centre in town.
A concerning letter circulated around the town on Monday caused the 5000-strong permanent and transient population to question the availability of medical services after the sole medical centre, Family Practice at Middlemount, announced it would close its doors indefinitely today at 5pm.
The centre's director David McDougall said despite negotiations and a doctor willing to move to the mining town, an agreement with the resource giant had not been reached and the lease had expired.
But Capcoal and Foxleigh Human Resources manager Sandra Thompson said immediate discussions had started with alternative medical service suppliers.
"I can confirm there will be a continuation of medical services working in Middlemount from Thursday," Ms Thompson said, adding she would advise the clinic's new location today.
"SECURING the long-term medical services for Middlemount is our immediate focus," Ms Thompson said.
The statements follow Mr McDougall's comments yesterday, when he said on the record a new lease agreement had not been able to be reached between the medical centre and resource giant.
"We told Anglo Coal that if we didn't have a three-year signed contract by June 30, we were going to lose these doctors," Mr McDougall said.
"We didn't hear anything back from Anglo Coal until the end of last week."
Mr McDougall conceded the centre's closure after three-and-a-half years was disappointing and despite the retirement of current GP Dr Mike Smyth, another GP had been approached who was willing to relocate.
"The doctor required a signed two-year contract with guaranteed income, which is standard," Mr Mc Dougall said.
"But we can't do that because we hadn't had our three-year lease renewed by Anglo Coal.
"Legally we can't sign a contract while we haven't got a lease."
Ms Thompson said it was disappointing Mr McDougall elected not to sign the lease agreement offered in December last year, but was adamant the company had been committed to finalising a new contract with the operator.
"We have also been in contact with some of our key stakeholders including the Isaac Regional Council, the Queensland Ambulance Service, Dysart Hospital and the resident GP in Tieri, advising them of the potential short-term disruption to medical services in Middlemount," Ms Thompson said.