MORE than 1000 upper Derwent Valley residents have been without a doctor since Easter, a community meeting heard earlier today. Meeting organiser Anne Donaghy said the sudden closure of the GP clinic at Ouse three months ago had deprived the wider area of access to health services.
About 100 people gathered at the Ellendale Community Hall for an update on the situation which has seen some people making 150km round trips to Risdon Vale to see a doctor. Representing the premier, Lyons Liberal MHA Guy Barnett said GP clinics were private businesses, funded by the Commonwealth Government, but the State Government had been working hard behind the scenes to help solve the problem. “The bottom line is that you need a GP and you deserve one,” Mr Barnett said.
Mrs Donaghy said the meeting had been well attended by the public, politicians and health officials. “The purpose for the meeting was to let the powers-that-be know we are here and still waiting,” she said. “We weren’t promised a doctor in the near future but they are still looking and hopefully they will find one soon.”
Some at the meeting were disappointed not to learn why the Ouse clinic had been closed, other than to hear it was a medico-legal issue between service providers. Central Highlands Council mayor Loueen Triffitt said her community’s basic human rights were not being met. “It’s not about wanting a doctor, it’s about needing one,” Cr Triffitt said, adding that the municipality had an ageing population with chronic health issues.
Meeting chairman Ron Sonners said there had been about 1200 people on the books at the medical centre when it closed and many of them were now without a doctor. “You can’t go to New Norfolk or Brighton because their books are closed,” he said of the medical centres in those towns. “Some have found a doctor in Hobart, but a doctor is needed in Ouse and they are needed now,” he said.
Pictured: Craig Farrell MLC, left, Anne Donaghy, Brian Mitchell MHR, Councillor Loueen Triffitt, Ron Sonners and Guy Barnett MHA at the Ellendale meeting.