Doctor says he cannot give his practice away
Running a medical practice on the Peninsula was financially uncertain, a public breakfast forum has been told.
One local retiring doctor said he could not give his practice away.
In an area with high numbers of older people on pensions, a reduction in Medicare payments over the last few years had reduced the feasibility of bulk billing and made it more difficult to deliver affordable healthcare to an ageing population, according to another doctor.
Residents also heard from local doctors expressing their frustration at having difficulty providing the level of health care that was optimal.
The forum was held in Umina by Member for Robertson Ms Lucy Wicks and was attended by Assistant Health Minister Dr David Gillespie.
Dr Gillespie assured the hundreds of locals in attendance that the government was committed to addressing the crisis.
However, his announcement that the Central Coast Primary Health Network would collaborate with regional training organisation GP Synergy to "develop strategies" to increase GP registrar numbers did not appear to give any commitment.
He said the Network would assess the number of GPs able to provide supervision and mentorship to medical students.
This would be done with consideration to the retirement age of GPs in the area.
It would also evaluate and support GP succession planning, and circulate information to the broader Central Coast and primary health network regions to raise awareness and potential relocation of doctors from more densely populated GP regions.
Dr Gillespie told the forum at Jasmine Green's Park Kiosk that Woy Woy had a large proportion of older people, and a high proportion of GPs who were approaching retirement age.
"There is also a worrying lack of younger GPs and GP registrars joining local practices," he said.
"Lucy has insisted we address the issue and I am pleased to say that she has brought me here today.
"I am keen to hear from local doctors and patients about the problems they are having now and what we may be able to do to attract more young doctors for the future.
Ms Wicks said: "If patient books are closed and GPs are reducing their workloads, this can cause issues especially for people who are new to the area.
"Obviously if patients are finding it hard to get a doctor's appointment, I want to know why," she said.
Following the forum, Ms Wicks and Dr Gillespie conducted "round table" discussions with "health and community stake holders".
Media release, 16 mar 2017
Tim Sowden, office of Lucy Wicks
Forum notes, 17 Mar 2017
Lucy Wicks, Member for Robertson
Reporter: Noel Fisher