THE shortage of doctors in Bundaberg has left patients at one of Bargara's only doctor surgeries a little more than a month to relocate to town or find a new doctor.
THE shortage of doctors in Bundaberg has left patients at one of Bargara's only doctor surgeries a little more than a month to relocate to town or find a new doctor. Kevin Farmer

Patients given notice as doctor shortage causes closure

THE shortage of doctors in Bundaberg has left patients at one of Bargara's only doctor surgeries a little more than a month to relocate to town or find a new doctor.

See St Surgery owner Doctor Denise Powell sent letters to her patients informing them of her decision to close the centre.

Dr Powell wrote with regret she was closing the See St branch of her medical practice from May 30.

She said the decision had not been an easy one to make.

The doctor said the shortage of doctors in rural and regional areas meant she had been unable to recruit a stable medical workforce to service both the Bargara and Millbank surgeries.

In 2017 a special investigation by the NewsMail explained Bundaberg had two major issues when it came to recruiting doctors.

The first was the classification called the District of Workforce Shortage. A DWS is an area where the ratio of doctors to patients falls below the average.

Bundaberg and surrounding areas are not included in the DWS.

The second issue is remote classification.

Currently Bundaberg is not considered as remote as places such as Hervey Bay and Gympie.

This means bulk billing doctors in these areas are being paid almost double, leading to doctors being more likely to set up in those areas.

Dr Powell was not available for comment on the closure of the practice on Thursday, but the letter to patients said it had always been her desire to continue a general practice at Bargara.

"From this date, I will be consolidating my practice to run from one location at 286 Bourbong Street Bundaberg also known as Millbank Medical Practice," she said.

"My practices have always shared staff, equipment and a combined patient data base and therefore I anticipate that this transition should be seamless for those of you who are willing to come."

For patients not wanting to join the Millbank surgery Dr Powell said they could request a health summary to be forwarded to an alternate practice of their choice.



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