The Western NSW Primary Health Network (WNSW PHN) is warning that 41 towns within its boundaries are at risk of not having a GP in the next 10 years in a submission to a NSW upper house parliamentary inquiry.
They include Balranald, Bourke, Brewarrina, Cobar, Collarenebri, Coonamble, Lightning Ridge, Walgett and Warren.
The WNSW PHN reports Coolah, Mendooran, Wentworth and Binaway are among the communities to have "recently lost their GP".
The submission also tells of smaller centres already relying on outreach GP services in the region where many GPs are approaching retirement and it is still "extremely challenging" to attract younger medical professionals.
But remedies are included in the WNSW PHN submission to the Health outcomes and access to health and hospital services in rural, regional and remote NSW inquiry.
WNSW PHN board chairman Dr Robin Williams insists there are "clear ways forward" to reducing the risks to the future of country practices.
"Improved alignment in the investment and planning of services between NSW Health and the Commonwealth Department of Health through formal agreements between PHN and local health districts will avoid fragmentation of services," he said.
".. new service and funding models of the Medicare Benefits Schedule are required as the primary model of bulk billing in our small towns is not sustainable."
..the primary model of bulk billing in our small towns is not sustainable.WNSW PHN board chairman Dr Robin Williams
Dr Williams said the enhancement of NSW Health's rural generalist program would also make regional GP opportunities "far more attractive to young GPs".
"Continued support is also a critical factor and we really require a new model of mentorship, continuing professional development and business to support healthcare professionals and retain their services locally," he said.
"Doctors, nurses and allied health practitioners are absolutely vital to providing, supporting and improving primary health services across Western and Far West NSW, and we are committed to finding better ways to ensure the continued operation, enhancement and expansion of services through greater collaborations and partnerships."
Submissions to the inquiry closed in January.
Hearings are set to start at Parliament House in Sydney on March 19.
The WNSW PHN submission can be found at www.parliament.nsw.gov.au/lcdocs/submissions/69976/0346%20Western%20Health%20Alliance%20Limited.pdf.
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