WEST Wimmera Health Service chief executive Ritchie Dodds is confident Nhill, Kaniva and Goroke residents will have access to sufficient doctors for the next five years.
The organisation announced on Tuesday it had terminated the contract of the embattled Tristar Medical Group to provide GP services out of its Nhill and Kaniva facilities, with three months' notice.
Mr Dodds said it had become "very problematic" for Tristar to replace doctors who left its Wimmera practices.
"Most recently for Nhill, where we had two full-time doctors and a part-time doctor at Kaniva, we had the loss of a doctor two weeks ago and no sign of that doctor being able to be replaced," he said.
"The service wasn't there, we discussed it at our board meeting last week and the decision was made for us to consider alternative providers."
Mr Dodds said Tristar's contract with the organisation would end on January 31, 2020.
"In the meantime, we are working to source a replacement organisation," he said. "At the moment we have two doctors employed by Tristar and ideally they will be able to transfer to the new operator but ultimately that's a decision for them.
"We have two parties that have submitted expressions of interest so far, and they are both promising up to three doctors for Nhill and one for Kaniva. We'd be happy with that - at least in the short-term."
Mr Dodds said both providers had indicated they would supply four doctorsfor at least five years.
"Worst case scenario we would have to look at operating our own medical practices and sourcing doctors ourselves," he said. "Generally we like to leave the administration of medical practices to the experts and the corporate entities that do that. It can quickly become an expensive exercise."
Mr Dodds said Tristar stopped providing services in Goroke three years ago, Jeparit and Rainbow 18 months ago, and at Minyip, Murtoa and Rupanyup in April.
"Rahim Medical is working on a doctor to come to (Minyip, Rupanyup and Murtoa) full time," he said. "It takes time for visa requirements to be dealt with, so we are quietly waiting for that to happen."
The Mail-Times has contacted Tristar Medical Group for comment.
Rural Doctors Association of Australia chief executive Peta Rutherford said the organisation continued to work with the federal government and Department of Health and Ageing on the roll out of the National Rural Generalist Pathway.
The pathway seeks to integrate general practice, emergency and additional skills into a single training program.
"This will help make a big difference in delivering to rural communities the next generation of rural generalist doctors with the range of skills needed to work in the bush," Ms Rutherford said.
The Regional Australia Institute's regional jobs vacancy map shows there are 136 unfilled roles for doctors, nurses, therapists and social welfare professionals across Western Victoria, which covers the Wimmera, Mildura, Southern Grampians and Glenelg municipalities.
This is up from 111 in April.
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