Council refuses to fund Casino GP

RICHMOND Valley Council has voted against assisting with the cost of bringing a new doctor out from the United Kingdom to work at the Casino Medical Centre, despite an acute shortage of doctors in the town.

At Tuesday night’s council meeting, it was decided to knock back an application by the medical centre for financial assistance to bring Dr Sunil Rajan to Australia.

The doctor and his family will arrive in Casino on January 18.

Council staff had recommended the medical centre be given $800 of the $2349 left over from the last round of the council’s financial assistance scheme.

However, councillors said no to the recommendation, saying it would be unfair to grant 100 per cent of the amount requested by the medical centre because its application was late.

Other organisations that presented their applications on time had received lesser percentages of what they had requested.

Councillors were concerned that giving the medical centre 100pc of the amount would encourage others to lodge late in order to get more money.

Two other applications were submitted late and were also denied funding.

Cr Robert Mustow said the council should contribute to the cost of attracting doctors to the area, but not under the financial assistance scheme.

The scheme will be reviewed by councillors in February. It is expected they will revisit a contribution to the cost of bringing the doctor to Australia then.

The medical centre has been trying to attract a new doctor since 2001 and finally succeeded after placing an ad in the British Journal of General Practice.

Practice manager at the centre, Maree Beek, said she held great hopes for the ‘long-term prospects’ of Dr Rajan’s employment.

Mrs Beek said she was disappointed the council did not help out. “They could have given a little bit of assistance,” she said.

The cost of bringing Dr Rajan to Casino was $13,500.

Dr Rajan, a vegetarian, will work full-time in the beef capital and it is expected he will cover shifts at the Casino and District Memorial Hospital after June.

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