Local medical practices will have to change the way they search for new doctors.
Local medical practices will have to change the way they search for new doctors. Iain Curry

Clinics must plan staffing

CLARENCE Valley medical practices looking to hire doctors will have to change their methods, says the head of the NSW Rural Doctors Network.

Network chief executive officer Ian Cameron said the region lost its District of Workplace Shortage status last week, meaning no more streamlined access to hire overseas doctors.

Dr Cameron said practices would need to become more attractive to graduates and make better use of other health services.

"There are options like delegating work to appropriately trained nurses," he said.

Dr Cameron said claims of doctor vacancies in Grafton were hard to prove.

"Vacancy numbers are a bit of a blunt instrument," he said. "It could be a practice is testing the water to see what's out there."

Another problem was replacing a long-term doctor working unrealistic hours in their community.

"We're looking at humanisation of work," Dr Cameron said.

"We're not expecting a graduate to come into a town and work the long hours the older doctors were working," he said.

"People just won't and should not be expected to work like that now."

The Network considers Grafton between a metropolitan area and a small remote location.

"Grafton should be all right, but smaller places like Maclean and Yamba should be looking at succession planning at town level," Dr Cameron said.

"They don't want to have that crisis that happens if one or two doctors leave in a short period of time," he said.

He said overall, the Federal Government's shake-up of DWS was


"Where I live in Newcastle, near Merewether Beach, Tighes Hill and Newcastle had DWS status," he said.

"That was ridiculous saying Merewether was the equivalent of a small,

remote town.

"All they did was update the figures on the number of doctors compared to the population from 2004 to 2014."

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