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15 February 2001

Doctor shortages being addressed
by a staff reporter

The critical shortage of doctors in remote areas of NSW is an all too familiar issue faced by centres such as Lightning Ridge.
Responsibility for the provision of adequate medical facilities and securing doctors lies with State and Federal governments supplemented by Local government allocations.
The best result locally Will be achieved by the community and appropriate departments pulling in the same direction.

The community expects answers and Far West Area Health General Manager,Stuart Gordon was more than willing to supply these.
Far from doom and gloom, Mr Gordon was optimistic that positive results would be achieved in the long term.
In the immediate future Lightning Ridge WILL NOT BE WITHOUT a doctor. Provision will be made to place at least one locum at the Ridge.

To further ease the situation negotiations are in progress for a second locumat Dr Aalder's surgery. Part of the overall plan is to attract overseas doctors through the Inland Doctors Scheme on a five year appointment arrangement.

Walgett Shire Council has been prioritised number one in terms of need under this scheme. Applications are being currently considered and an appointment expected in May to June.

Suitable packages are needed to encourage doctors to remain in these areas. These include housing and well equipped surgeries.

The Lightning Ridge Multi Purpose Centre, so vital to our infrastructure, is soon to become a reality. Far West Area Health General Manager, Stuart Gordon, is encouraged by the productive dialogue that has transpired seeking additional funding for staff accommodation and a medical complex to house the doctors servicing this mining district.

Ideally this purpose built complex would be constructed at the same time as the Multi Purpose Centre. "Every option is being identified to keep Lightning Ridge covered," said Mr Gordon. Short term it will be locums, immediate future an appointment under the Overseas Doctors Program expected and long term our much awaited MultiPurpose Centre with the possible inclusion of staff accommodation and medical complex.

Meanwhile, the often over taxed staff at the Accident and Emergency Centre will continue their excellent service and our efforts should be focused on the projections already identified by Far West Area Health.

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