More help: Tweed Valley General Practice Network chief Gary Southey.
More help: Tweed Valley General Practice Network chief Gary Southey. Blainey Woodham

Wrong solution for GP shortage

WINTER is well and truly upon us, and so is the demand for doctors.

A website has been advertising several positions for locum doctors in the Tweed area offering good incentives, however locums may not be the right solution.

Tweed Valley General Practice Network executive officer Gary Southey said there were often more disadvantages than advantages to having a locum doctor over a permanent general practitioner.

“Continuity of care for the patient is the major benefit from having a regular GP,” Mr Southey said.

“Locums do provide a service, but there are many factors that may impact upon that service.

“A permanent GP is a part of the community as opposed to a GP that provides services on a short-term basis.”

Locum doctors can earn up to $3000 a week, and travel and accommodation can even be included.

The main issue facing the Tweed medical community is the shortage of doctors in the area.

“As the Tweed does not have District of Workforce Shortage-status the recruitment of international medical graduates is not an option as it once was,” Mr Southey said.

However, even if there were more doctors available for the Tweed area, there could be practice infrastructure problems stopping this from happening.

“There may not be the room to house additional GPs,” Mr Southey said.

“Additionally there is not the number of practices that there once was.”

With Wintersun and its influx of tourism comes an associated influx of germs and an even greater need for doctors.

Locum doctors may be a viable short-term solution, but Mr Southey said the long-term solution was to attract more doctors to the area, and have the practice capacity to support the extra doctors.



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