Mackay Hospital and Health Service Chief Executive Lisa Davies-Jones reveals the new medical model being introduced at Clermont.
Mackay Hospital and Health Service Chief Executive Lisa Davies-Jones reveals the new medical model being introduced at Clermont.

Revealed: How CQ town will attract, retain rural doctors

Clermont’s medical model is about to undergo a complete transformation, with health authorities confident it’s the change the community needs to retain more permanent doctors.

Mackay Hospital and Health Service has revealed a new medical model, launching in July, would include a single hub general practice model, operating through Clermont Country Practice.

Mackay Hospital and Health Service chief executive Lisa Davies-Jones said it was a decision made with the input of other local health care providers and key stakeholders from Clermont, part of a plan to develop a long-term, sustainable model that supported both the public and private sector.

“There are currently two private general practices operating in Clermont,” she said.

“One is a longstanding general practice located on the Clermont Multi-Purpose Health Service campus, currently managed by Rural Health Management Pty Ltd, and the second practice, Clermont Country Practice, was founded in September 2019 by Dr Sarah McLay.

“Both practices have and continue to face challenges in recruiting and retaining doctors and the proposed model under development, is a single hub Private General Practice with rotational medical staff working fractionally across both primary health care (within the private general practice) and providing acute care, 24/7 emergency cover, inpatient, outpatient, and aged care services for Clermont MPHS.”

Clermont Multi-purpose Health Service.
Clermont Multi-purpose Health Service.

The announcement comes just days after it was revealed a locum doctor resigned due to emergent circumstances.

Clermont Country Practice owner Dr Sarah McLay said neither of the existing practices were in a position to continue to remain open if nothing changed.

“At the moment we’ve got two separate practices, both of which are inadequately staffed with doctors, and it’s creating a bit of difficulty with continuity of care,” she said.

“The plan is to transition to have all the doctors working in one clinic, which won’t mean losing any doctors.

“It will be a much more integrated model that actually allows for a better experience for the locum that visits and also for a better experience for any other doctors that join.”

Dr McLay said she had a long-term goal of growing the service into a hub for health services, much like the Emerald Medical Group, providing a range of services in one location.

“My goal and dream would be to create and grow a service where people want to work and love coming,” she said.

“New services can start providing their skills, and allied health staff can come.

“That’s my dream for this town and I can’t do it alone, so it makes so much sense to combine and do it collectively rather than try to do it individually.”

The single hub general practice model will be in place from July 12, allowing the team to “iron out any issues”, allowing for a smooth transition for future staff.

Dr Sarah McLay of Clermont Country Practice.
Dr Sarah McLay of Clermont Country Practice.

“The town would love the capacity to have a consistent medical workforce and for us to achieve that, we have to provide an environment that other doctors want to come and work in,” Dr McLay said.

“There’s a better chance we can attract and retain doctors because they’re joining something that’s already set up.

“We need to transition before they join us so we can give them a really straightforward, seamless entry into what is a gorgeous town, a beautiful place to work with amazing, supportive, excited patients who are just so happy to meet a doctor face-to-face.

“They’re a very appreciative community and so desperately want a long-term solution for this problem.”

Ms Davies-Jones said the health service had already interviewed two potential medical candidates and would continue to actively recruit suitable candidates for the integrated model.

“As the shared model evolves over the coming months, Mackay HHS will continue to engage senior medical locums to work across both public and private sector,” she said.

“Clermont Country Practice will also continue to independently engage private general practitioners to provide general practice services to the community.”

Originally published as Revealed: How CQ town will attract, retain rural doctors



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