What’s up Doc?: Health staff “disappointed” by placement decisions

Local GP and obsetrician Dr Jeff Taylor has described the decision by the State Government to base junior doctors in Mount Gambier rather than Naracoorte “disappointing”.

“In South Australia, internships have traditionally been city-centric,” Dr Taylor continued.

“Mount Gambier is basically a city practice. It’s unfortunate we’ve been cut out.”

On August 1 the office of Stephen Wade, Minister for Health and Wellbeing, announced that there would be seven more positions made for junior doctors to train in the country.

“Starting next year, five interns will be based in Whyalla Hospital, and an additional two will be based in Mount Gambier,” Minister Wade said in a statement.

“The Whyalla-based interns will complete a minimum of two rotations throughout the year at Whyalla Hospital, and three rotations at GP practices in Port Lincoln, Port Augusta and Whyalla.

“In Mount Gambier, the majority of interns will complete their rotations at Mount Gambier Hospital and at a GP practice in Mount Gambier or the Riverland.”

Dr Taylor has called the decision to keep the interns either in Mount Gambier or sent north to the Riverland “bizarre”.

“It’s a missed opportunity,” he said.

“At Naracoorte and elsewhere in the South East, these interns could learn good and broad skills. They would have the opportunity to deliver babies, and work in emergency surgery.”

Working in various capacities in regional areas could also give interns an idea about whether they wanted to be medical specialists such as cardiologists, explained Dr Taylor.

“In Mount Gambier, they’ll just be fighting for opportunities with third year students and other trainees.”

Dr Taylor suspects that the decision to send the interns to the Riverland is because that’s where a Country Health SA hub is based, ditto Whyalla, Pt Augusta and Mount Gambier.

Dr Taylor hopes that the decision to bypass South Eastern in the interns’ training blocks is rectified down the line.

When asked for comment, this was the reply received from Minister Wade:

“Previously medical interns in country South Australia were only based in Mount Gambier so we are delighted to be able to extend the program to four other regional areas.

“This is just the beginning of a process to address the shortage of health practitioners in the country.

“We are actively looking at expanding the network for GP training and GP services.”