A TOWN'S mayor has backed Hunter New England Health's (HNEH) decision to deny three proposals to run the local GP clinic.
Gunnedah mayor Jamie Chaffey said it was "disappointing" that none of the proposals would have seen an increase in doctors in the town.
"The pressure on Gunnedah has not eased over the last few months, we still see a doctor to resident ratio that's unacceptable, we still see the GPs within the shire under immense pressure, and also the teams of people that assist in their GP services," Cr Chaffey said.
"The only way for our community to get the health services that they deserve is that we see an increase in general practitioners into the rural health centre or doctors that will join either of the two practices in the town."
Minister for Regional Health Mark Coulton said a practice with long-term doctors was what was needed for the town, and if it now took a "little bit longer to ensure we are getting more doctors to town, then that's the right thing to do".
"Locums are very short term expensive option and we want people to relocate and set up a practice to live and work in the community and I'm hopeful that through this process that's what will happen," he said.
"We don't want a practice that's just managed by part-time doctors, because what's important about delivering a good health service is the relationship that patients and doctors build over a period of time so when you need to have those discussions about treatment or end-of-life care or a whole range of other issues, you need to be able to have someone that you know and trust and a practice that just has fly in, fly out can't deliver that."
Cr Chaffey said he understood HNEH would now call for more expressions of interest, and believed they "would continue to do that until they find the right partner to bring new doctors to Gunnedah".
"If council in any way can support HNEH in that endeavour, then we're willing to speak to them," he said.
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