Doctor needed

The Murrumbidgee Local Health District is advertising a position for a Visiting Medical Officer (VMO) to provide non procedural General Practitioner services at Narrandera Health Service.

Narrandera residents are pinning their hopes on a fresh round of advertising to fill the doctor void at Narrandera Hospital.

The advertised position is for a Visiting Medical Officer (VMO) to provide non procedural General Practitioner services at Narrandera Health Service.

Narrandera Medical Centre – Riverina GP Super Clinic executive director Liz Romeo approached Murrumbidgee Local Health District to advertise the position following VMO positions posted for other regional towns.

Mrs Romeo said there was some funding available to help with the cost of recruitment. She said it was MLHD’s responsibility to ensure there are doctors to work at the Narrandera Hospital.

“We have assumed the responsibility because it is extremely unlikely any doctor would apply to be a VMO at Narrandera Hospital and not work in the town,” she said. “If a doctor chose to, they could work for the hospital and themselves – there is no obligation for them to be part of our practice.

“When a doctor is applying for a VMO contract, the hospital has to prove they have advertised and have considered all the applicants.”

Mrs Romeo said the centre communicated with agents daily with a view to finding suitable and willing doctors to work in Narrandera.

“We are working with the hospital in order to continue to provide the best possible medical coverage,” she said. “We are looking at what options there are that we have not yet tried.

“In response to the advertising over the past years, the hospital has forwarded me two applications, and they were the type of application we receive on a weekly basis, and were not suitable.

“Some doctors are in a position to enter the system and be fully recognised after five years. Some are not even at a stage ready to start work in Australia.”

Mrs Romeo said any doctor who is not Vocationally Registered (passed their GP Fellowship exams) was unable to work without supervision at some level. She said if a doctor of this nature was employed, a supervisor would have to be provided by phone.

Mrs Romeo said it was unlikely Dr Joe Romeo would accept a supervisor role in person unless the doctor was prepared to work at the medical centre.

Narrandera District Hospital is a 34-bed (includes six day surgery beds) community hospital with surgery.

Narrandera Health Advisory Group was formed late last year to resolve the doctor shortage and lobby governments with support, advocacy and information input from health agencies.

Narrandera Shire Mayor Neville Kschenka said the shire welcomed any proposal to assist local practitioners in providing services to Shire residents at Narrandera Hospital.

“I understand the advertisement placed by MLHD is standard procedure in endeavouring to meet the needs of our community,” Cr Kschenka said. “Doctors at Narrandera Medical Centre currently fill this roll, adding to their already heavy work load.

“While it is something the Health Alliance would welcome, this is an initiative of MLHD.

“I understand a meeting is proposed in the near future with MLHD and local health professionals to discuss the medical services in Narrandera.”

The Argus sought comment from the Narrandera Health Service.

2 Comments on "Doctor needed"

  1. At the risk of sounding like a “dinosaur”, (which I’m not), even back in the 1980’s there were not the issues with recruiting fully qualified doctors to the region. Both Narrandera and also Leeton had a brilliant set up, with all local doctors servicing the hospitals. I believe the problem is with the Murrumbidgee Local Health District, and it’s administration, with respect, also its arguably poor performance over many years of not being pro active and recognising potential problems before they become reality. Back in the day we would not even be reading about this type of issue, because it was dealt with proactively. You can’t stop progress, but when state government health departments change the names of regional health departments, then under that new name, increase “management” (glorified accountants), instead of supplying the proper number of “real” health professionals to regional towns and hospitals, then you get these types of problems. Narrandera hospital, and indeed the doctors surgeries locally are something to be proud of, however there are other ways to “recruit” medical professionals to the region than the apparent “wait and see what happens” mentality that has attached itself to some of the “new age” administrator minds working in Health in N.S.W. Certainly it can be a complex issue getting suitable doctors to a smaller town, however with the right incentives it should be a lot easier. And with all due respect, no doctor in a town the size of Narrandera, with it’s large surrounding area, and reasonably busy hospital for its size, should have to be “supervised” over the phone in any case. That was unheard of 30 years ago. Less experienced doctors should be at larger teaching hospitals such as Wagga or Albury, until experienced enough to work at smaller places where you often have to make quick decisions, not hang about on the phone for “supervision” I would suggest.

  2. Narrandera has a “Super Clinic” Surely Narrandera does not have troubles employing fully qualified doctors.

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