Coolah the latest town left without a Doctor
The news from Coolah that the Coolah Medical Centre is closing is the latest in list of communities that have been rocked by the news they would be without a local Doctor.
Having local medical services is essential to the overall safety and wellbeing of a community. Knowing that when you need care you are able to make an appointment, or head to the hospital, is vital to the comfort and stability of someone’s life.
My Office and I have been in contact with many concerned residents in Coolah, the Chief Executive of Western NSW Local Health District and the CEO of the Rural and Remote Medical Services.
Western NSW Local Health District will be providing medical coverage via telehealth to Coolah as a stopgap measure.
Telehealth services are a part of the make-up of rural medical services, but cannot be used as a replacement for face-to-face medical services, especially when a person needs to have a boneset, or a wound stitched.
Sadly, this situation is not unique to Coolah. This closure mirrors the problems across many parts of regional NSW, with the sustainability of the local General Practitioner and Visiting Medical Officer (VMO) model under question.
It is crucial that our communities have a viable General Practitioner and VMO in the local hospital. It is increasingly obvious that the remote General Practitioner VMO model is struggling. This is a concern I have taken directly to the Health Minister.
The Health Minister must ensure regional communities receive their fair share of health funding, and have appropriate services available that meet the needs of our communities. Telehealth and digital health solutions are a part of this mix but should never be a replacement for face-to-face care.
I have met with a number of medical providers that are working across Barwon to supply Doctors. These meetings have been positive, and shown to me that there is a willingness for Doctors to work in our communities; but these Doctors must be supported by the NSW Health system.
I intend to bring to the NSW Government lasting solutions to this problem and I will engage with industry professionals, Local Health Districts, and General Practitioners to find the solutions.
On behalf of Coolah, I will work to ensure a return of services to the Coolah Medical Service and Hospital.