Tasmania Needs a Voice for Rural Health

The State Government must quarantine rural and regional health professionals from recruiting efforts for new city based urgent care centres.

Independent MHA’s, John Tucker and Lara Alexander said without protective action country health services could be raided for staff.

Ms Alexander stated “Ochre Health Services Scottsdale and Bridport has today revealed the challenges the clinic is facing due to not being able at retain doctors to the clinic. Because of the shortage of GP’s in regional and rural areas, the clinic is unable to meet patient demand. This has resulted in longer wait times and difficulty in people getting appointments.”

Mr Tucker expressed his concern over the recent announcement that Ochre Health Tasmania will be the new contractor for medical services in St Mary’s due to the fact the contractor has been struggling to find health professionals for their other clinics.

“Given that Ochre Health Tasmania is facing GP shortages in Scottsdale and Bridport, can you provide an assurance that the Fingal Valley Community will not end up with the same issue?”

Ms Alexander stated, “Minister, the shortage of GPs is a problem across Tasmania, but particularly acute in rural and regional areas.  Last month Dr Elizabeth Lord, who practices at Launceston and Oatlands, said access to health services was less in regional areas and for some health problems that can mean worse outcomes.”

Ms Alexander questioned if attempts to alleviate Tasmania’s emergency departments by opening more urgent care clinics is making the GP shortage even worse in rural and regional communities.

“It appears that attempts to fix our broken health system may be making the problems in regional areas even worse. It is reported that one of the two GP’s who have recently left the Scottsdale doctors surgery run by Ochre Heath Tasmania will be taking a position in one of the new city-based health hub.”

“Minister what are you doing to prevent the hollowing out of understaffed rural GP services to bolster care in the city?”

In response to both questions, the Minister for Health shirked responsibility for the problem to the Federal Government and was unable to provide a meaningful answer.

Mr Tucker and Ms Alexander are insisting that the Government start acting now to assist Tasmania’s struggling regional and rural health services.

Thursday September 14, 2023.

Tags: News