The new doctors in the Clarence Valley, from left, Dr Angela Radcliffe, Dr Jean Collie, Dr Sydedea Kazmi, Dr Winnie Loh, Dr Mud
The new doctors in the Clarence Valley, from left, Dr Angela Radcliffe, Dr Jean Collie, Dr Sydedea Kazmi, Dr Winnie Loh, Dr Mud

Is there a doctor in the house? Ten, actually

By JULIA ILES

THE unprecedented arrival of 10 doctors will give Grafton residents their best access to medical care for decades.

Most of the doctors decided to relocate from urban areas as a lifestyle choice, and for better opportunities for themselves and their families.

Primarily the doctors are general practitioners that work from private clinics, but in addition a surgeon, physician and a director of medical services have made the move to take up positions at Grafton Base Hospital.

The new doctors were welcomed to town at a function at the Grafton Regional Gallery on Tuesday night.

Dr Ian Rae, who introduced the recruits, said it was important for regional doctors to be able to socialise and build networks of support.

"It means people can put a face to a name and is also important for the partners of doctors to get out and meet others; coming to a new town can be difficult," Dr Rae said.

Dr Muddassra Umer and her husband Dr Umer (his only name) only arrived two weeks ago from Sydney, while the other doctors have been working in Grafton for a year.

Dr Sydedea Kazmi, originally from Pakistan, moved to Grafton a month ago from Sydney to get out of the 'rat race'.

"So far I have no regrets and the people have been very welcoming, much more so than in Sydney, I am sure there will be challenges and cultural differences ... it will take a while to get used to, but I am happy here," she said.

Dr Kazmi hopes her husband, who works in the pharmaceutical industry in Sydney, will be able to join her in Grafton, but she said there were not many employment opportunities for him here.

It is the first time the Grafton Base Hospital has employed a full-time director of medical services. Dr Jean Collie commenced the position in June 2005.

She moved from Alice Springs, but had worked in Brisbane training hospital staff for 30 years.

"It's a small hospital, but I am getting to know it, there are few places where you can go down the street and people will say hello without even knowing you," she said.

Departing GPs Dr Hein Le Roux and his wife Dr Emma Le Roux, and Dr Matur Gak were also farewelled on Tuesday.

According to the Mid-North Coast Division of General Practitioners, there are 28 GPs that work in the Grafton area, however it is not known how many are working part-time. Assuming all are working full-time with an average population of 17,000 people, the ratio is one GP per 607 people, which is above the national standard set by the Department of Health and Ageing of one GP per 1400 people.



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