Hills doctor departures cause concern

Hills doctor departures cause concern

Photo: SHUTTERSTOCK

Photo: SHUTTERSTOCK

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COUNTRY GPs play a very different role in their communities compared with their city counterparts.

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COUNTRY GPs play a very different role in their communities compared with their city counterparts.

Metropolitan doctors are far less likely to be bailed up in the local supermarket by a patient wanting to discuss a painful bunion, or line up on the footy field against someone they recently diagnosed with depression.

Couple this with less demanding on-call hours, and it's much easier for a city GP to separate their work and personal life.

It's a similar story for country hospital staff, who would often find themselves caring for people they know, watching them battle some of the toughest times in their lives.

Related reading:SA's rural health system under fire from opposition

We all know the value of having good medical services in our country towns. Most of us will know someone whose life has depended on these services at one point or another.

The government and our health authorities need to pull out all stops to ensure our GPs and hospital staff are well remunerated for their efforts, and given the support they need to do what can be a very difficult job.

While plenty of programs have been put in place to help attract GPs to country areas, it's clear there are still so many hoops for potential candidates to have to jump through. Many of you will remember the story of Cummins GP Leanne Schroeder, who had to sit several exams and fill out a mountain of paperwork to facilitate her move from South Africa to the EP.

Related reading: Burnout risk a real concern in rural GP workforce

I acknowledge the importance of having safeguards in place to ensure foreign doctors' qualifications meet Australia's standards, but it's not difficult to imagine overseas-based GPs less determined than Dr Schroeder being put off by the lengthy process.

Attracting GPs to some of the more isolated parts of SA has always been a challenge - and likely will be for years to come, but it's concerning when a community like Gumeracha just 50 minutes from the CBD has lost three GPs in just two months.

The last thing we can afford is to have new GPs looking to move interstate because the working conditions and remuneration are better. If this continues to happen, it will be our country communities that suffer the most.

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