"I'm sorry, we don't have any appointments today...."
It's frustrating for you, and it's frustrating for us.
"We know this is a long post, but please read it all."
The Goondiwindi Medical Centre has taken to social media to explain why it has sudenly fallen prey to the bane of rural towns: a shortage of GPs: For the first time in many years, Goondiwindi is experiencing what so many rural towns around Australia have battled with for decades - a doctor shortage .
But why? And when will it get better? Thankfully there are clear reasons, and a couple of unfortunate coincidences, so we are confident things will improve - BUT, things will be tough for a few more months yet.
1. We were never really able to catch up from the repeated short weeks with all the public holidays a few months back. Essentially, with all the public holidays, we saw about 500 appointments disappear.
2. In order to maintain health services for the whole community, we need to cover both the hospital and the medical centre , as well as Kaloma and our outreach services. Our doctors are still working on-call for Emergency, Obstetrics, and Anaesthetics, carrying our on-call phone, and working shifts at our hospital. This means they can not provide appointments at the medical centre every day.
3. COVID-19 and Influenza continues to spread in our community and this includes our staff. Everyone who can work is working really hard, often from home, to keep appointments open. Our doctors who are well enough are working from home providing Telehealth appointments. 4. We unexpectedly farewelled two full-time doctors in April, and are doing our best to replace. The reality is that every small town in QLD is trying to get more Doctors. It will likely be 6 months until we have a full team again.
You will see a few new doctors who have come to help us temporarily, so please make them welcome. We are hoping they will come back!
We will always endeavour to get you seen, and please understand that we do try REALLY hard to fit as many people in as we can from the waiting list, but sometimes there just aren't enough doctors in the building or hours in the day to see everyone.
We always make sure we have some appointments available each day for urgent matters so please ring from 8am to try for one of these. Keep trying on subsequent days if you aren't successful.
What can the community do?
1. Be KIND to our Reception Staff. They are humans too. Lately, there has been a significant increase in abuse directed towards our amazing reception staff, we understand that you're feeling frustrated, but it is unacceptable to abuse our staff.
2. Be ORGANISED. Jump online or call and book your next appointment for your scripts/referrals/checkups. You can book an appointment up to 2 years in advance over the phone or online. Now is not the time to assume you'll get an appointment 2 days before your scripts run out or when you need a new referral for your specialist appointment next week
3. LOBBY your federal member to improve the medicare rebate for rural communities. It makes it incredibly hard for us to recruit high-quality doctors and nurses and provide high-quality care when the medicare rebates haven't increased appropriately in 10 years . You can reach the Hon David Littleproud on email@example.com or via his Warwick office on 07 4661 2494
Please remember if you can't get an appointment and are worried about the urgency of your problem, you should go to the hospital for an assessment.
Thank you for your understanding and patience during this challenging time. At the end of the day - as a community, we all just need to look after each other, and please believe us, that we really are trying our hardest
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