Esk needs doctors

FUTURE CONCERN: Somerset Regional Ratepayers Association president Stephen Barraclough.
FUTURE CONCERN: Somerset Regional Ratepayers Association president Stephen Barraclough. Contributed

Although the meeting was cheered to hear the Esk Hospital would not be closing, many residents remain concerned about the lack of doctors in the town.

Ms Dwyer also apologised to residents if the board meetings with the Somerset Regional Council had caused confusion about the hospital's future.

Instead, she said the discussions were aimed at identifying what services were being used and what services would be needed in the future, in order to ensure the hospital met the community's expectations.

Ms Dwyer said the board commissioned a study that showed Esk residents were under-utilising available services, a situation she put down to a lack of knowledge of what services were offered at the hospital.

Ms Dwyer acknowledged the lack of GP services was serious, but pointed out Queensland Health did not issue the Medicare Provider Numbers needed for doctors to write prescriptions that could be claimed under the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme.

She said while doctors at the hospital could write prescriptions, without the federal subsidy, the hospital's budget would need to cover any difference in the cost of drugs.

While residents accepted this situation, many also expressed concern about referrals to Ipswich-based services that were also available at the Esk Hospital.

This included ante-natal services and the diabetes clinic, with doctors requesting patients travel to Ipswich for the same treatment.

Jan Allan, secretary of the ratepayers' association, called for the hospital to talk to the community in "plain language", to avoid misunderstandings.

State Member for Nanango Deb Frecklington said there was a need to make the community "welcoming" to a GP, to encourage them to set up a practice.

Topics:  esk hospital health care

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