General News

23 November, 2022

Taskforce tackles key town issues

ROADS, health, housing, workers and a safer town were all key points talked about the first annual meeting of the Mareeba Taskforce after it was established last year.

By Rhys Thomas

Taskforce tackles key town issues - feature photo

The meeting brought together passionate community members, industry professionals and local councillors as they discussed the five key areas that were identified as priority outcomes in 2021.

Mareeba Shire Council and Mareeba Chamber of Commerce joined hands to establish the taskforce forum to address how the shire can get improved health services, attract and retain a skilled workforce, improved transport connectivity, affordable housing and improved community safety.

The recent meeting was held to provide stakeholders and interested community members with progress updates on these issues and answer any questions in relation to them.

People in attendance included new Tablelands Patrol Group Inspector Jason Smith, Cathy Duck from the Queensland Department of Children, Youth Justice and Multicultural Af-fairs, Mareeba Community Family Health Care chairman Ross Cardillo and Mareeba Hospital director of medical services Dr Brian Treanor just to name a few.

Dr Treanor discussed the current GP crisis, gave a multitude of reasons for its cause, some potential ways to rectify it and revealed the current waiting list for the hospital’s bulk bill GP clinic is in excess of six weeks.

“Recruiting and retaining doctors to work in rural areas is a huge difficulty,” he said.

“Ten years ago, 50 per cent of doctors would choose their specialty to be general practice, now it is 15 per cent of those doctors who are choosing general practice.

“Younger doctors in the next generation don’t want to work full-time, it is about the work-life balance – trying to find doctors in their 30s who want to work full-time is very difficult.

“We have less doctors choosing GP and those doctors tend not to work full-time and that is all contributing to the shortage we have.”

Dr Treanor has been trying to make Mareeba the best place for doctors to want to come and work and to this end, doctors working at the Mareeba Hospital now get 10 per cent of their time to catch up on results, write reports and keep up with their training which is identified under the award.

Last time Dr Treanor advertised three full-time positions, he received 11 applications – proof that Mareeba is an attractive place for doctors to work and live.

In an attempt to draw more doctors to the region, Dr Treanor wants to piggyback off the Rural Doctors Association of Queensland conference due to be held in Cairns next year and invite some young doctors up to Mareeba to showcase the hospital and the local region.

“It is the main recruiting drive for picking junior doctors and what I am hoping to do with your support to run a free trip for any doctors that want to come up and have a look around Mareeba,” he said.

“We can put a bus on, have a nice lunch, go to all the GP surgeries in town, go to the hospital, meet some of the locals and find out about the community and hopefully attract them to come work here.”

Mareeba Communities Family Health Care has also been hard at work trying to get more doctors to come and work in Mareeba.

The organisation has now secured several new doctors including one already practicing and a few more on the way.

Group chairman Ross Cardillo said it did not matter who in Mareeba employed the new doctors because the main aim was that the community benefitted.

“Mareeba Communities Family Health Care is the main body and we felt that through the structure of a not-for-profit, we were in a better position to negotiate with the government for grants and assistance wherever possible,” he said.

“The clinic is just one part of what we are trying to do and through it we are trying to improve and add services to what is already provided but the most important thing is attracting more doctors.

“With more doctors we can service more people and it does not matter whether they are at Mulungu, Amaroo, Mareeba Medical Clinic or the hospital – we need more doctors and that is the bottom line.”

There will be an official progress report released early next year detailing the actions taken by the different organisations on the taskforce.


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