Mums and community health advocates Larissa Burnett and Dawn Goodman at the meeting.
Mums and community health advocates Larissa Burnett and Dawn Goodman at the meeting.

Housing the issue for GPs

ACCOMMODATION is the critical condition to be dealt with before a GP Super Clinic can be established in Emerald.

That was the message aimed at Anne Thorpe from the super clinic branch of the Federal Department of Health and Ageing time and again on Sunday.

Ms Thorpe challenged people to think creatively about solutions, as she made it clear the $5 million in federal funding did not include any accommodation component.

"I did look in a real estate agent's window and thought, 'heck, I can't afford to buy here'," she told the 50-strong gathering at the town hall.

"So there's a real two-speed economy happening right here. Clearly mining does have a massive effect in small rural communities like this one and that is disappointing for you in terms of attracting and retaining people to come and work in your business.

"It doesn't mean you can't think outside the square... and we are absolutely sensible about other streams of funding coming in."

Theodore's Dr Bruce Chater, Central Therapy's Doug Jones and health advocate Larissa Burnett all highlighted the issue.

"I know it's not in the super clinic brief, but we're going to need to have it," Dr Chater said.

"If we don't bust through that bit, and it's a problem in all mining towns, then the super clinic will fail because there just won't be anywhere for students to stay, anywhere for doctors to stay."

Dr Chater, a professor at the University of Queensland's rural and remote medicine, said the university was committed to being part of a super clinic model and sending its students into the Central Highlands.

Emerald GP Dr Ewen McPhee posed how a super clinic could act as a circuit breaker to bridge the divide between Queensland Health and local doctors and allied health professionals denied access to their facilities.

"As a private GP in the town I've seen a need for much closer working relationships between allied health professionals, nursing professionals and the community in bringing together a much more positive relationship for everyone in the town," he said.

"I see the super clinic as a significant opportunity to work together to get something really good.

"My question is traditionally federal and state never work well together and I still have concerns about while there's goodwill with Queensland Health, will the federal people be able to help us work with the state with regards to simply things like access to facilities within the hospital… they feel it is inappropriate for primary care to be accessing.

"Is the Federal Government going to help us develop better relationships with the state or is it up to us to fight it out?"

Ms Jones said she saw a GP Super Clinic as the "opportunity to break down trench warfare... the them and us that says you're the state and we're privately practising".

The Central Queensland Rural Division of General Practice will take the lead in bringing together Emerald's GP Super Clinic proponents.


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