Lilydale residents fear they will have to rely on medical services at the Launceston General Hospital when the town’s GP clinic shuts its doors this month.
The Lilydale GP Clinic is set to close on December 29, and there are no other clinics within about a 30-kilometre radius.
The centre is owned by Advanced Rural Health, under the umbrella organisation Your Health Connect, which also owns a number of other rural clinics, including Sheffield, Westbury, Beaconsfield and Evandale.
The company did not respond to repeated requests for information on Tuesday.
However, The Examiner obtained a letter sent to patients last week, which confirmed the centre would close on December 29.
It said they could continue care at one of the company’s other clinics, at Beaconsfield, Westbury or Evandale, all of which are more than 40 kilometres from Lilydale.
In the letter, management blamed the landlord, saying the building was not a safe environment.
It said the “ultimate goal” was to reopen a centre at Lilydale at a “later date”.
Dr Chris Bush owns the building and ran the medical centre for a number of years.
She sold the practice to the current owners nearly five years ago.
Dr Bush said the new owners did not want to buy the building, so she leased it to them for 12 months, and let that lease roll over since then.
“My understanding was at the start that they wanted to get another building or build a new surgery, and my understanding was that it would be in the order of 12 to 18 months before they wanted to vacate my building, at which time I would put it on the market,” she said.
“My aim has always been the maintenance of a medical practice in Lilydale. I was so pleased to sell it to somebody because I was coming up to 70 and beginning to feel very tired because I was working 70 to 80 hours a week.
“They came along and bought it and I thought, this is fantastic, we’ll see the continuation of the practice.”
Lilydale resident Peter McMurray said the closure would leave patients in the lurch.
“It is extremely unlikely that any of us will be able to get accepted as patients by a practice in Launceston, nor do we wish to be,” he said.
“I’m 76 and my wife is 67. I had a triple bypass in 2014 and another major heart operation in February this year. And we’re in a better position than a lot of people, because we can still drive.”
Mr McMurray said it would leave people with no choice but to present to the LGH.
“How can the government allow this to happen when the LGH outpatients is already overloaded?”
Health Minister Michael Ferguson said Lilydale deserved its own GP services.
“While this is a private clinic, the government will be doing everything we can to see these services continue,” he said.
“I’ve already contacted management at the clinic and requested an urgent meeting.”