Walcha Shire Council to meet with Hunter New England Health to discuss boosting the town's workforce

HEALTHY NEED: Walcha Shire Council to meet with Hunter New England Health to discuss the town's medical workforce. Photo: Barry Smith 270416BSF13
HEALTHY NEED: Walcha Shire Council to meet with Hunter New England Health to discuss the town's medical workforce. Photo: Barry Smith 270416BSF13

WALCHA Shire Council will meet with Hunter New England Health (HNEH) next week as they look to shore-up the town’s medical workforce.

Mayor, Eric Noakes, said the only visiting medical officer (VMO) at the hospital, Dr Adrian Allen, is looking at “cutting back a bit”.

The meeting with local health district bosses is hoped to set out the best way forward for Walcha bringing in additional medical support at the hospital and potentially mapping out a ongoing recruitment plan.

“From council’s point of view, the best outcome would be bringing in a second doctor who could be a VMO at the hospital,” Cr Noakes said.

“But we have to talk to Dr Allen and Hunter New England and see what the best option is.

“It’s not our job to put doctors in the hospital, but we will push for what’s best for the community.”

The Walcha mayor hasn’t been in the top-job for long, but Cr Noakes said he was already aware getting doctors to the region wasn’t an easy task.

Cr Noakes said there was a house in Walcha – owned by council – which could be used as a part of an accommodation incentive for the additional job.

“Council has to package what Walcha has to offer,” he said.

“We’re close to Armidale and we’re in proximity to Tamworth, which is a good city to be near.

“We’re a thriving town for our size and we’re very welcoming.”

The mayor said part of the challenge of attracting medicos was making sure there was enough incentive for their families.

“They may have children, so they have to think about changing schools,” Cr Noakes said.

While Walcha will have to wait until next Wednesday to find out what plans HNEH have for the town, the mayor said the tele-health capabilities out of Tamworth had been a “brilliant addition”.

“It’s a fantastic asset,” he said.

“You can be laying on a bed in Walcha and fave treatment diagnosed from Tamworth.”