THE visit by AMA boss Associate Professor Owler, better known as the face of the Don’t Rush road safety campaign, confirms what many of us in the Shoalhaven already know: that the biggest medical challenge facing the region is the shortage of medical practitioners.
While praising the expansion of medical infrastructure, Associate Professor Owler noted that the great difficulty is attracting qualified staff to relocate to Nowra to man it.
Most residents know exactly what he is talking about. Those without private health insurance – and there are many - know that fairly routine procedures in the public health system can involve significant waiting periods. Demand simply outstrips supply. Even a trip to the local GP can involve waiting for an appointment to become available.
Associate Professor Owler suggested there was a critical mass that needed to be reached before medical practitioners would be attracted to a region such as ours. Until that mass is reached, the doctors who are here tend to work such long hours that the benefits of living in the Shoalhaven are outweighed by the demands on their time.
Rising to the challenge of luring more medicos requires change. The local health bureaucracy must be willing to listen to local doctors without fighting them every step of the way. Too many times, pleas for additional staff to ease the burden on hospital staff are ignored until they reach crisis point.
Until a common purpose can be struck between the health practitioners and administrators, there will continue to be a shortage of medical staff in the region.