Byron lifestyle leads to doctor shortage
Byron West Doctors at Sunrise Beach is closing down this week, citing the scarcity or unavailability of doctors as a barrier to remaining open as a consistent community service.
While the operators at Byron West did not want to comment on their situation, Bay Centre Medical partner and GP Ross Simpson said he understood the problems the clinic might have faced.
"Increasingly with professionals, not only the medical profession, there is an increasing trend for graduates to have lifestyle as an important priority," Dr Simpson said.
"And there are fewer people interested in working five or more days a week. More and more doctors are working part-time.
"There's a trend with medical graduates in that direction but I don't think it is unique to the North Coast.
"I think doctors move to a place like this for lifestyle reasons, and the new generation of university graduates are not interested in working as hard as the older generation of doctors.
"I don't think there's a shortage of doctors in Byron Bay."
Holdsworth House Medical Practice in Byron Bay recently put out feelers for other medical centres to go into partnership.
A spokesperson for the practice said the transient nature of patients made it hard for doctors to build up a rapport. Consequently, the practice was often looking for new doctors.
She believed this, combined with lifestyle factors and the deceptive number of registered doctors, made it hard to replace staff.
"It has been a challenge for us and several other local practices," she said. "A lot of doctors are pre-retired so remain a registered doctor, but they are not practising."