Doctors forced to quit city
A MEDICAL centre may have to shut its doors after losing two foreign GPs in a year, leaving hundreds of patients without a doctor.
The closure threat to the Takalvan Medical Centre comes on the back of news the federal government’s GP Super Clinic is on shaky ground, after the only group that applied to run it was rejected.
The centre’s practice manager, Coral Sweeney, said she lost one international doctor back in May and had so far failed to replace them, while she faced losing another doctor soon because of problems with his Australian registration process.
Mrs Sweeney said she faced a real threat of closure as a result.
“Ultimately, we can’t possibly survive with one doctor,” she said.
Mrs Sweeney said the complications with registration that international doctors faced when trying to practise in Australia made it very difficult to attract them to the country, let alone Bundaberg.
Bulgarian doctor Ilian Kamenoff, who works at the medical centre, said his only full-time colleague was moving to England because he was now unable to work at the clinic without a senior doctor supervising.
“He’s had to go through a pre-employment process even though he’s worked here for nine years,” he said.
Rule changes meant the doctor had to take the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners exam – a tough specialist test that most doctors working in general practices have to pass – 18 months earlier than he had originally intended to.
He failed the exam in September last year and, because of rule changes in October this year, was told he could only see patients with a senior doctor in tow.
The doctor was also studying for a Masters degree and working full-time at the centre when he was forced to sit the exam.
He was awarded his Masters in Family Medicine, Clinical, from Monash University earlier this month.
Patients Murray and Eileen Burnell credited the doctors at the medical centre with saving Mr Burnell’s life, following his battle with prostate cancer three years ago.
“The other people that Murray was with in Brisbane, who also had cancer, many have passed away and I put the fact he’s alive down to those two doctors (at the centre),” Mrs Burnell said.
Member for Bundaberg Jack Dempsey said frustrating red tape was driving doctors away from regional areas.
“I can understand the checks and balances need to be in place, especially since the events in Bundaberg in our recent history,” Mr Dempsey said.
“But the Queensland Government should be out there on the front foot, not just getting doctors to come to Bundaberg, but keeping them here.
“How are we going to staff a GP Super Clinic when we can’t even support the practices we’ve already got?”
A Queensland Medical Board spokeswoman said all doctors practising in Queensland must re-register once a year.