THE number of doctors employed at Foster and Toora Medical Centres has always fluctuated over time. Due to the loss of three full time doctors over the last eight months, the capacity of the doctors to meet the current demand for services 24/7 is being stretched.
In order to maintain the high standard of services to the local communities, the clinics are not accepting any new patients (with the exception of maternity cases), from outside the immediate area – for example from Leongatha or Yarram.
“At this point we cannot accept extra new patients as we need to do our very best to care for our own existing patients – whether they are from Foster, Toora or other townships in the area,” said practice principal Dr Phil Worboys.
Dr Wayne Shipley returned to Queensland at the end of 2015 and a few weeks ago Dr Kaveh Haghighi left to take up a new position closer to family and friends in Melbourne.
The clinics continue to have a core group of dedicated GPs who are also obstetricians, emergency and hospital doctors and educators of the next generation of trainees. Experienced GP locums regularly return to the area to assist.
“We have also been fortunate to have Dr Li Yong Ng (providing anaesthetic services) and Dr Dirk Tueber placed with us for a year of their GP Registrar training. We will be welcoming another new registrar in August,” said practice manager Heather Byrne.
“ We would ask the local community to help by understanding that wait times for an appointment may currently be longer than usual,” said practice principal Dr Owen Casson.
“We also always endeavour to accommodate urgent cases and hospital emergencies appropriately. At times this leads to longer delays in the waiting room,” he added.
The recruitment of additional doctors is an ongoing focus at the medical centre but is an unpredictable process.
There are many attractions to living and working in the Foster area, but there are also some barriers to attracting and retaining doctors, such as:
- Isolation from family/established social networks elsewhere;
- The complexity of work (managing everything from heart attacks to births, to mental health issues, to paediatrics and aged care);
- Reduced access to specialist services;
- After hours ‘on call’ expectations (overnight and weekends).
After hours ‘on call’ work can be quite challenging for doctors who are also working all day in the clinics. It would be of great assistance if community members could continue to keep requests for after hours medical services to urgent matters only.
Management and staff greatly appreciate everyone’s patience and understanding of the situation and also appreciate the community’s efforts to embrace new doctors and their families. The practice will endeavour to keep you informed of any new developments or of any assistance which could be offered to help attract and retain more great doctors to the medical service and the town.