Western NSW Local Health District (WNSWLHD) executive officer Scott McLachlan has assured Dunedoo residents that around-the clock medical services will continue to be available at the Dunedoo MPS.
At a meeting on Thursday, Mr McLachlan fielded questions about medical services at the MPS and the availability of general practitioners in Dunedoo and Mendooran.
General practitioner Sara Fergusson is relocating her practice to Coolah following the expiry of her contract as visiting medical officer (VMO) at the Dunedoo MPS.
Dr Fergusson told the meeting that she had not renewed her contract due to concerns over the standard of emergency department facilities, hospital management, and lack of communication with WNSWLHD.
Mr McLachlan said a doctor had been available since October 3 at the MPS, where three locums are currently rostered to provide medical services 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
However, speakers at the meeting said they wanted a permanent general practitioner in the town with visiting rights to the hospital, with some calling for Dr Fergusson to be reinstated as VMO.
Dr Fergusson, who as VMO occupied offices in the MPS, said she had not been able to find suitable premises in Dunedoo to continue her private practice.
“I have tried to provide a continuous service for patients but moving to Coolah is the safest option,” she said.
But Warrumbungle Shire Councillor Wendy Hill said rooms could be made available for the doctor in the former Westpac Bank building.
In response to a question from the meeting, Dr Fergusson said she would “absolutely” be prepared to return to Dunedoo as a private practitioner after her three-month lease expires at Coolah, if appropriate premises were available.
Mr McLachlan said the WNSWLHD had offered to provide financial and rental assistance to help Dr Fergusson to move her private practice to a new location in Dunedoo, but was not willing to assist her to move to Coolah.
“I am not willing to pay NSW taxpayers’ money for Sara not to be in Dunedoo,” he said.
“The community wants [Sara] in Dunedoo and I am happy to work with council to make that happen.”
Mr McLachlan said he was sorry to see Dr Fergusson leaving and in the long-term WNSWLHD will certainly do everything possible to provide a general practitioner service in the town.
Coolah Health Council chairman Randolph Rindfleish urged the community and council to work with WNSWLHD to find a way for Dr Fergusson to continue her practice in Dunedoo.