MORE than a thousand Central Highlands residents are a step closer to having a new local GP and pharmacy service with negotiations between the council, State Government and a new provider continuing.
The current GP provider will close on October 31, meaning patients would have to travel long distances to visit a GP, even if they could find one with books open.
Also, a Covid vaccination blitz targeting the Derwent Valley and Central Highlands over coming weeks is expected to help the region, which has low vaccination rates, reach 90 per cent by December.
As part of the State Government’s Covid regulations, all medical staff are mandated to be vaccinated by the end of October.
The current Ouse GP decided he did not want to be vaccinated, therefore forcing the closure of the medical service and pharmacy.
Central Highlands Mayor Lou Triffitt said the local community was greatly relieved that the Moreton Group had agreed to step in and establish a GP clinic and negotiations are ongoing.
The Moreton Group has an extensive background in providing mobile GP services and Covid vaccinations.
Ms Triffitt said with 1200 active patients in the region, it had been a very anxious wait to find a replacement.
“We have an ageing population and some patients have to visit their GP three times a week,’’ Ms Triffitt said.
“Transport is often a huge issue and access to GPs in many places is impossible.
“Morton Group has saved us. “
Since learning the old GP would close we have worked persistently as a council, it has been non-stop.
“As a council we will support the new service with a vehicle, a residence and a contribution of cash.’’
Health Minister Jeremy Rockliff said the Government would continue to engage with interested providers, including the Moreton Group, to ensure GP services could continue to be provided to the local community beyond the end of October.
The Moreton Group will establish a pop-up clinic for Covid vaccinations in the region later this month. A clinic will be held at Ouse on Monday, October 18 at the Community Health Centre at 6896 Lyell Highway from 9am to noon and a second clinic will deliver the second dose on November 8.
A clinic will also be held at the New Norfolk District Hospital next Wednesday and Thursday,
October 20-21, from 9am to 4.30pm, and a clinic for the second dose will be available on November 9-10.
The Royal Flying Doctor Service is also planning pop up clinics at Miena and Hamilton in coming weeks. All Tasmanians aged 12 and over are now eligible to receive the Pfizer vaccine.
This includes anyone aged 60 and over if they have not already had a first dose of AstraZeneca.
As well as vaccine clinics, vaccinations are available at local pharmacies and GPs, and can be found using the Vaccine Clinic Finder, on the Australia Department of Health website.
The Moreton Group is funded through Primary Health Tasmania and the Federal Government and provides access to bulk billed doctors between 6pm and 10pm Monday to Friday.
It also operates a mobile clinic that is designed to remove barriers to accessing healthcare for vulnerable communities.