The Ventura Private Hospital at 13 Surry St, Coraki in the 1920s.
The Ventura Private Hospital at 13 Surry St, Coraki in the 1920s. Courtesy: Mid Richmond Historica

Waiting on a doctor in rural NSW

DOCTOR wanted.

Coraki is not alone in having to wait for a doctor at their new, modern facility opposite the old hospital.

Many regional towns are having trouble finding a doctor. Apollo Bay in Victoria on the Great Ocean Rd is considered a "paradise by the sea” and struggled to attract a second doctor.

Northern NSW Local Health District chief executive Wayne Jones said their office was "progressing negotiations with the preferred service provider for a general practitioner at the Coraki Campbell HealthOne.”

Dr Liz Elliott speaks to supporters of Coraki, Bonalbo, and Mullumbimby hospitals who marched outside the Lismore Base Hospital to protest the closures and reduction of services at local hospitals.
Dr Liz Elliott speaks to supporters of Coraki, Bonalbo, and Mullumbimby hospitals who marched outside the Lismore Base Hospital to protest the closures and reduction of services at local hospitals. Cathy Adams

With reports from residents of being refused first-aid at the HealthOne and many using the chemist, the HealthOne was never designed to provide an emergency service, Mr Jones said.

"Patients requiring emergency treatment should present to the Lismore Base Hospital Emergency Department,” he said.

Rural Doctors Association of Australia chief executive Peta Rutherford said there was "no silver bullet” to find a doctor for Coraki but there was a lot the town and council could do to make coming to a rural location more attractive.

"What is the accommodation? What does the area offer the doctor as in schools and a job for their partner?” Dr Rutherford said

NURSING SISTERS: Elaine Trustum with her sister Helen at the Coraki Hospital in 1964.
NURSING SISTERS: Elaine Trustum with her sister Helen at the Coraki Hospital in 1964. Contributed

The association was pushing for more rural medical training to prepare and entice young doctors to move to regional locations.

"It is difficult, there is a workforce distribution issue between city and country,” she said.

Taking up the position of solo GP can be daunting for new doctors because the full responsibility will fall on their shoulders, she said.

"It's all one person,” Dr Rutherford said.

Medical students had to do an internship after five years of study and these internships usually happened in the cioty.

The old hospital sits derelict and un-used.
The old hospital sits derelict and un-used. Susanna Freymark

The Federal Government has recently established regional training hubs at universities to push for more medical training in the bush

Meanwhile, the Coraki community waits for a GP to call their own.

The Coraki Campbell HealthOne provides community nursing and physiotherapy services five days a week, and child and family health nursing three days a week.

Oral Health Services will commence at the HealthOne at the end of October.

Consultations at HealthOne are available by appointment on 6683 9000.

In the case of a life-threatening emergency, patients should phone 000 to request an ambulance.

For 24-hour medical advice and nursing expertise, residents are encouraged to phone HealthDirect on 1800 022 222.



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