RESIDENTS in three Wimmera towns will soon not need to travel as far for doctors appointments.
The West Wimmera Health Service has announced Rahim Medical Pty Ltd will begin providing GP services out of the Rupanyup, Minyip and Murtoa medical clinics from next February.
On Wednesday, WWHS chief executive Ritchie Dodds said GPs would conduct four-to-five hour consulting sessions at each town once a week.
He said Dr Mohamed Mahmoud and Dr Ahmad Rahim - the principal of Rahim Medical - would undertake the work while a new doctor was recruited to serve in an ongoing capacity.
"As people start to utilize it more, we expect it would build up to one full-time doctor across those three sites, however it best suits the doctor and the communities," he said.
"We're grateful for how patient people have been, and hopefully they support the service once it's up and running."
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"I can't see that shortage (of doctors, nursing and allied health staff) abating, so that's going to be an ongoing challenge for all services in the area. We're always looking for any type of professionals in the health field."
Mr Dodds said contact details and practice times would be communicated as they became available. He said the service would be bulk billed.
The three towns have been without a doctor since a senior GP who worked for Tristar Medical Group relocated to Melbourne. The organisation, which has previously said it is under financial pressure, moved its equipment out of the towns in April.
Yarriambiack Shire councillor and farmer Corinne Heintze, of Minyip, welcomed the news. She said she hoped the doctor recruited to service the towns could stay for longer than 12 months.
"A lot of people in Minyip are aged, and they need continuity of care," she said.
"At the moment a lot of us have gone up to Warracknabeal (Rural Northwest Health). There are now three doctors there but you have to pay a fee to see the GP and are reimbursed the medicare amount.
"When (the Tristar service) stopped about 12 months ago, people had to seek alternative practitioners or not go to the doctor at all, which means worse health outcomes. We have two doctors that visit Dunmunkle Lodge that are freely available for appointments, but again there is a fee."
Mrs Heintze said she hoped long-term the services doctors referred people onto, such as dieticians or physiotherapist, would be supplied to the three towns.
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