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The Pom Queen

Doctors Needed Rural Queensland -Australia

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A CHRONIC shortage of doctors is putting the lives of rural Queenslanders at risk.


Babies are particularly vulnerable because of a steep decline in obstetric services.


People in country areas are often forced to drive for hours to seek medical care and the Royal Flying Doctor Service (RFDS) is struggling with increased case loads.


Several regions are suffering extreme doctor shortages, with 30 GP vacancies in Central Queensland and 40 in regional centres along the east coast.


More than eight Queensland towns are without a doctor, Health Workforce Queensland figures reveal.


And there is a shortage of more than 300 doctors in Queensland hospitals.


"The attitude with Queensland Health is 'You chose to live in the bush so it's your problem'," Rural Doctors Association Queensland president Dr



"Alpha is a prime example. They have had no doctor for at least five years but mining ventures are now going in and Queensland Health is quibbling about supplying a paramedic for the town."


And 40 per cent of doctors servicing Queensland's rural and regional communities are international medical graduates with limited experience.


The RFDS said there had been a steady increase in its workload in Queensland.


"Last year we transported 11,000 patients to hospital via aircraft and did 40,000 primary health care consultations," a spokeswoman said.


Dr McPhee, a GP in Emerald for more than 20 years, said the message he was getting from Queensland Health was that they didn't have the money to justify care to people in rural areas.


"There is a move towards centralisation, with the attitude 'There is no problem that can't be fixed by getting a faster plane'. But we have people with complex medical needs who have to drive for hours for help. Health care is chaotic for these people because they often don't get to see the same doctor," he said.


The Commonwealth ratio for good medical practice is one doctor per 1000 people. Centres such as Blackwater have two doctors servicing 8000 people in the region, Tully has two doctors servicing 8000 people and Emerald one for every 1780 people.


Queensland Health relies on locums to fill vacancies at a cost of $2000-plus a day, with an annual bill of tens of millions of dollars.


Queensland Health acting deputy director-general Bronwyn Nardi said the department had increased the number of doctors employed by almost 15 per cent since March 2009, to 7683 in July this year.


Ms Nardi defended the use of locums: "The overall cost is approximately 2 per cent of the value of our annual staff wages."

If you are depressed you are living in the past. If you are anxious you are living in the future. If you are at peace you are living in the present.

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