The Tamworth region is desperately short of doctors.
But retired GP Lyn Allen said they're not the only health staff we can't do without in a pandemic.
"We need more than more doctors, we need more everything," she said.
"I think that if coronavirus comes in our area, we don't have enough trained staff, we don't have enough intensive care beds. By trained staff I don't mean the paramedics, I mean the nurses and the doctors, to handle it."
Dr Allen worked as a GP on Fitzroy Street for 36 years, before she retired at the end of 2016.
She never worked in a pandemic, but she still receives regular updates through correspondence from the College of General Practitioners and the Australian Medical Association.
Dubbo doctors would be worked off their feet, she said.
"I can imagine that it would be terrible," she said.
"And that's why we go get immunised. It may keep you out of hospital."
Tamworth hospital has just 12 Intensive Care Unit beds on an average day.
In a crisis, that number can surge to a maximum of 18.
The story is even more difficult in smaller communities around the region.
Gunnedah residents struggle to access health services outside the hospital, but even it is often short staffed, particularly on weekends.
NSW Parliament's rural health inquiry heard from a "burnt out" hospital manager of the Boggabri hospital, who said the service is sometimes staffed by just two nurses for 16 residents, that there is an emergency department with no doctor, that junior doctors are unsupervised and tea ladies attend to patients.
Glen Innes doctors raised the alarm about the state of the hospital for their small town, describing the situation as a collapse of the GP visiting medical officer model.
Just three doctors provide visiting medical services to the town's hospital, leaving the service often reliant on locum doctors from out of town.
Dr Allen said a pandemic outbreak would put even more stress on an already stretched system, and could see some patients triaged out.
"Just because we've got a pandemic doesn't mean everything else doesn't happen as well," she said.
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