Regional medical practices under 'constant pressure' to retain doctors

Three doctors have resigned from a medical centre at a regional town on the state’s East Coast.

Councillors from the Break O’Day Council met with Ochre Medical representatives on Thursday night to discuss the resignation of the doctors from its St Helens practice.

Ochre chief executive Dermot Roche said practices throughout rural and regional Tasmania were “under constant pressure” to recruit doctors to meet patient demand.

“While there are many factors at play, typically things like accommodation, schooling, and how the doctor and their family integrate into the community are key to finding and keeping great doctors,” Mr Roche said.

Mr Roche said part of the solution to the issue was securing permanent doctors who would be well supported by fellow doctors at the practice to ensure the workload and roster demands were well shared, so patient demands could be met without doctors “burning out”.

“We want our doctors to have a lifestyle that provides sufficient downtime to enjoy the area and its attractions and activities, as well as have a fulfilled clinical work life,” he said.

Mayor Mick Tucker said the council was committed to helping Ochre Medical in any way possible.

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“We have a responsibility to our community to do all that we can to ensure there is provision of quality services in our area,” he said.

“We will work with Ochre Medical in any way we can to make sure doctors feel welcome and connected in the area. We want them to have that all important work life balance, which is one of the things that makes our area so attractive to people anyway.”

Cr Tucker said this could involve helping to find long term accommodation for doctors, and making them feel welcome within the community.

A state government spokesperson said a number of key stakeholders were collaborated with to “maximise coverage and service availability” of GPs in the state.

“The government recognises that access to GPs is vital to ensure the delivery of health services for rural and regional communities,” they said.

Mr Roche said he was “pulling out all the stops” to find the right replacements for the practice.

The vacant positions at St Helens are being advertised through Australia and the United Kingdom.

Locums were engaged to continue services in the interim.