The years of neglect take their toll

ROCKHAMPTON Hospital remains on the critical list with just one new overseas-trained doctor ready to work in the public facility.

"Maybe this shows that we haven't got any points of difference that make us an attractive place for medicos to work,'' said Australian Medical Association of Queensland Capricornia representative, Dr Kim Bulwinkel.

Yesterday Health Minister Stephen Robertson revealed the Medical Board of Queensland had approved 264 doctors' registrations on Friday.

They included 93 overseastrained doctors and 70 existing hospital interns that are now registered to practise as junior doctors.

But to enable the overseastrained doctors, including Rockhampton's new principal house officer (medicine), to work in the face of a critical doctor shortage, it was up to the Federal Government to expedite their visas, said Mr Robertson.

Doctors' public hospital contracts expire today and Rockhampton Health Service District manager Sandra Thomson had indicated the shortfall at Rockhampton Hospital may be as many as 16 doctors.

Rockhampton Hospital was not commenting yesterday ahead of "D-day'' today when the full extent of doctor numbers will be known.

Dr Bulwinkel expressed frustration that nothing had changed in Rockhampton's ailing public health system.

"We've lost ground, been neglected, and been left behind when you talk about regional Queensland,'' he said.

Dr Bulwinkel said both levels of government were culpable for staffing shortages due to neglect of training.

A spokesman for the Health Minister yesterday said the Medical Board would meet again on Wednesday to consider another batch of registrations.

"It's not to say you (Rockhampton Health Service District) are not going to get more in that,'' he said.

The Australasian College for Emergency Medicine did not include Rockhampton in a list of hospitals which it said faced such a significant doctor shortage that they would be unsafe from today.

Those included were Caboolture, Ipswich, Redcliffe and Toowoomba.

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