GP crisis hits again

THE Central Highlands community is desperately trying to find a replacement general practitioner after the sudden resignation of the resident doctor.

Just six months after the last GP quit due to refusing to get a Covid vaccination, a dispute has arisen leaving locals without a doctor and pharmacy service.

Last year, the Morton Group stepped in to provide a health service at Ouse, and on April 1 this year it handed over ownership to Dr Meg McKeown who had expressed interest in the service, renaming it Highland Rural Health.

However, without a public explanation it has now closed leaving 1200 active patients in the region without a local GP and pharmacy service.

Derwent Valley Medical Centre has closed its books, leaving those in the Highlands having to scrabble to find a GP in Brighton or Hobart.

Central Highlands Mayor Lou Triffitt said the issue was one of live and death.

“People in Ouse, Wayatinah, Bronte, Ellendale, Hamilton and surrounding towns are dependent on a local GP service,’’ Ms Triffitt said.
“Members of the community need to visit their doctor on a regular basis, some weekly or GP services and scripts.
“As Mayor, my community it is my first priority and this situation has left the community in a terrible position.
“We need and deserve access to basic primary health care services. “I’m in contact with the State and hoping for an update.’’

Premier and Health Minister Jeremy Rockliff acknowledged the issue.

“The primary healthcare sector plays in caring for our community and is taking all steps to ensure the continued delivery of GP services in the Ouse and Central Highlands area,’’ he said.
“A matter has arisen between the current and former provider and we are keen for a resolution. The Department of Health will work constructively with anyone who is willing to provide this vital service to the community.
“While the Federal Government is predominantly responsible for funding GPs and primary care, the Tasmanian Government has been making a number of investments into community-based care to assist in reducing hospitalisations and deliver better care for Tasmanians.
“I have raised the issue of support for our primary healthcare providers with the Federal Government and I will continue to raise with my federal colleagues for additional support for this vital sector.”

Labor Leader Rebecca White said local residents were very confused by the developing issue.

“I’ve been in contact with the Mayor, I’ve ask the Minister Jeremy Rockliff for an explanation,’’ Ms White said.
“We need to make sure it is urgently reinstalled. Mr Rockliff has to urgently intervene.
“This is why federal Labor policy is to establish urgent care clinics and bulk billing because we know how hard it is to access a GP in the South.
“The problem now is those patients have nowhere to turn to and will have to call ambulances and that will put more pressure on emergency services.