General News

12 October, 2022

New doctors to fill Mareeba GP gap

MAREEBA locals can breathe a sigh of relief, with two new doctors committing to live and practice in the town to help ease the growing line of patients who desperately need to see a GP.

By Rhys Thomas

New doctors to fill Mareeba GP gap - feature photo

The Mareeba Medical Clinic has secured two new doctors, one who has already begun practising and another on the way hopefully before the end of the year.

Over the past year, Mareeba residents have constantly struggled to get an appointment with a GP, with many forced to go to Cairns or put undo stress on the overloaded hospital system.

When a medical practice in Atherton closed earlier this year after its doctor retired, more pressure was added to the already strained health system as patients were forced to sit on a waiting list.

A doctor, formerly based in Sydney, has now relocated to Mareeba and has been practising at the Mareeba Medical Clinic for the past three weeks. Another GP is due to arrive from Egypt before the end of the year.

Mareeba and Communities Family Healthcare, which manages the Mareeba Medical Clinic, is pushing for better healthcare services in the region, including recruiting new doctors to the town.

Group chair Ross Cardillo said it was crucial people had access to a doctor in Mareeba but the region was often forgotten about by young doctors who were more attracted to metropolitan areas.

“We are doing everything we can to try and attract more doctors to the region, it is an unfortunate reality that you cannot get access to a doctor,” he said.

“Mareeba has had exponential growth in the past few years, agriculture is booming and we have hundreds of new workers in town so the pressure on the health system increases dramatically at all levels.

“The GPs are supposed to take the strain off the hospitals but unfortunately we do not have enough GPs in our town.”

Mr Cardillo stressed there wasn’t just a shortage of doctors, but also a shortage of medical professionals across the board in Far North Queensland in both the public and private sectors.

“It is not just the public health system, it is the private system too and, in all aspects, we are forgotten about in Far North Queensland,” he said.

Having reliable access to a GP in a rural community was crucial for the community’s health and more doctors in Mareeba would lead to a stronger health system, making the region more enticing to new residents.

“It is critical to have doctors for the growth and development of our town because people look at health systems when they are looking at moving and retiring,” Mr Cardillo said.

“It is not just our clinic but also Mulungu needs more doctors, Amaroo needs more doctors – the whole idea is to attract more doctors to the region.

“If we get them at the clinic, that’s fantastic, if Amaroo gets them, fantastic, if Mulungu gets them fantastic – it means more doctors in the town seeing more people.”

Mr Cardillo also raised the issue of Mareeba Hospital not having its own dialysis unit, with one present in Atherton and two in Lotus Glen, owned by Queensland Correctional Services.

The Mareeba community has been calling for their own dialysis unit since 2007 when the Mareeba community raised $167,000 for the equipment, but the Queensland Government refused to purchase the machine and asked the shire council to put the funds towards medical transport services.

“Dialysis is very important to Mareeba residents, and it is going to become more and more important as people age because it is something that only gets worse, it does not get better,” Mr Cardillo said.


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