A KANIVA resident has encouraged people in the town to speak out about the town’s doctor shortage.
The town has been without a doctor since September.
There are also general practitioner vacancies in other western Wimmera towns including Goroke, Rainbow and Jeparit.
Resident Narelle Maddern has contacted West Wimmera Health Service, Tristar Medical Group – which runs Kaniva’s medical clinic – Member for Mallee Andrew Broad and Member for Lowan Emma Kealy to detail her concerns about the doctor vacancy.
She said she was scared to think what would happen if the town went without a doctor any longer.
“I am extremely worried for Kaniva, as I fear more people will shop out of town and get their scripts filled out of town if we don’t have a doctor,” she said.
“The residents might choose to wait rather than get the appointment or medications they need.
“Our health services like the nursing home and cottages and our hospital and staff are impacted too, as they can’t take acute patients with no doctor.
“I’m scared for Kaniva that it will drive people to leave if we don’t have a doctor.”
Ms Maddern said West Wimmera Health Service responded to her inquiry, and assured her they were working with Tristar to recruit doctors for vacant positions in the area.
She said she was able to secure a doctor appointment in another town when needed, but that was not the main issue.
“For me personally, getting an appointment was easy enough, however I had to rely on a friend to get me there as I don’t drive,” she said.
“I also had to take time off work as it was 30 minutes to get there, 30 minutes waiting for the appointment, and then 30 minutes to get home, plus the appointment time.”
Ms Maddern believes a requirement that all doctors practice in a country town during their career could help address recruitment issues in rural areas.
“I also think there should be greater incentives to coax them to the country,” she said.