Seaside doctor shortage to be addressed

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Lechelle Earl, owner/editor

Seaside doctor shortage to be addressed

The inability to source doctors for such seaside practices as Robe and Beachport is to be brought to the attention of Health Minister Chris Picton in a face-to-face meeting in Adelaide on March 27.

Liberal Member for MacKillop Nick McBride has brokered the ministerial meeting which will also be attended by Dr David Senior (pictured), Robe Mayor Lisa Ruffell and Robe District Council chief executive James Holyman.

Dr Senior is the long-time head of medical clinics at Lucindale, Robe, Padthaway, Kingston and Beachport.

Trading as the Limestone Coast Health Unit Trust, he had explained the difficulties of sourcing doctors for these practices when he addressed the Robe Council in December.

Indeed, Dr Senior was forced to close the Beachport practice at the end of 2022 when the two resident senior GPs became unavailable.

Dr Pauline Wachtel retired while Dr Farhana Akter moved to Adelaide.

Both held the coveted Fellowship of the Royal Australian College of General Practice.

The Beachport clinic building was built with a Federal Government grant 15 years ago and then gifted to the Wattle Range Council.

Since then, the clinic building has been maintained by the council and been leased at a peppercorn rate to successive medical practices owned by Dr Trevor Burchall, Dr Chris Waite and Dr Senior.

The future of the Beachport clinic building was discussed during a closed session of last month’s meeting of Wattle Range Council.

Wattle Range Council chief executive Ben Gower said it is actively pursuing the return of medical services to the Beachport community and is currently exploring options with a number of potential service providers.

Mr Gower said the lease with the former operator expired in May but included a ‘right of renewal’ provision for a further five-year term.

“After initially indicating their desire to renew the lease, council was only advised by the former operator on December 14 they would not be doing so, and they would be vacating the council owned building on December 31,” Mr Gower said.

“The clinic building was formally handed back to council in early January after a handover inspection was completed on site.

“The building, fixtures and fittings were all left in very good condition.”

Mr Gower said the council has subsequently confirmed the terms and conditions for a new lease and authorised him to negotiate with potential service providers for the return of medical services to the Beachport community.

“The lease terms and conditions are extremely competitive and have been specifically designed to attract potential operators to continue to provide local medical services to the Beachport community,” he said.

“High level discussions have been held with a couple of medical service providers, and council will be running a formal expression of interest process to ensure that a fair and transparent selection process is followed.

“Interested parties are encouraged to contact the Wattle Range Council for further details.”

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