Opinion

Deni doctor shortage could mar growth, development

by
September 13, 2017

Deniliquin and district in in the midst of a resurgence.

We will soon start seeing the fruits of record infrastructure investment in our communities.

We’ll see $20 million spent across both Edward River Council and Murray River Council as a result of the local government Stronger Communities funding stream.

Another $1.5 million has been awarded to the Edward River Council from the NSW Government Stronger Country Communities Fund and $3 million to five projects under the Murray Darling Basin Regional Economic Diversification Programme.

One of the key projects that will come out of this combined funding windfall is expected to be the long awaited retirement village complex for the district, to be built on railway land in the centre of Deniliquin.

It has been rumoured, planned and wished upon for many years, and finally it is nearing reality.

We have a lot to be excited about moving forward, but one thing threatens to undermine all this positivity, and particularly the retirement village proposal ... access to basic medical services.

While we rejoice about a boost to our economy, Deniliquin has been crying out for help to end a local doctor shortage since at least January.

So far, the authorities with the power to make a difference seem unwilling to budge.

Despite local doctors being unable to physically see any more patients — closing their books and encouraging patients to seek treatment at Echuca or other nearby towns — this district is not officially registered as having a District of Workforce Shortage.

After nine months lobbying behind the scenes, local health professionals have resorted to petitioning the Federal Government to intervene.

They are urging the Federal Government to ease the burden on our community and our doctors by revising the Deniliquin District of Workforce Shortage classification earlier than the scheduled date — at least six months from now.

We are desperate. Our health depends on it. Our economy depends on it.

Yes, Edward River Council has obtained funding for the retirement village proposal and secured 2.2ha of land on which to build it.

But getting the project off the ground depends on a willing developer, a sound business plan and the people to live in it.

Who would choose to invest or retire in Deniliquin if there is no access to doctors?

We have seen time and again that the voice of many can have an impact on how politics and government bureaucracy is shaped.

Let’s all add our voice to the petition instigated by Deniliquin doctor Ian Dumbrell, and demand the Federal Government helps us to maintain a healthy community and basic services right here at home.

It can be signed at Deniliquin businesses Eric Sim Pharmacy and Soul Pattinson Pharmacy, or at Dr Dumbrell’s Deniliquin Central Clinic.

Let’s speak up for our basic rights.

And if the Federal Government still does not see us as being eligible for a District of Workforce Shortage classification, perhaps it’s time to change the criteria.

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