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Community & Business

21 December, 2022

Doctor hunt takes to the skies

Doctor hunt takes to the skies Clifton Community Health Services (CCHS) is leaving no stone unturned in its quest to find doctors, enlisting the help of Lone Eagle Flying School in an effort to give Clifton a unique edge in the fierce contest to secure doctors.

Dr Rhian Kenrick joined Carol Browne in the cockpit for a flight.

Lone Eagle Flying School (LEFS) pilot Carol Browne was joined by locum doctor Rhian Kenrick recently for a 20-minute flight, getting a chance to fly over Clifton, Allora and Nobby.

Although the flight was shortened due to low cloud cover, it was still enjoyable, and an opportunity that is not readily available.

Dr Kenrick has had a four-week stay in Clifton, ending this week.

Trevor Bange from Lone Eagle Flying School said CCHS reached out about taking Dr Kenrick for a scenic flight.

“It’s a great way to see what the district looks like from above,” Mr Bange said.

“The club is willing to take doctors for a flight, showing our community support, free of charge.”

He said the LEFS committee unanimously endorsed the decision to take Dr Kenrick for a flight, as the committee understands the importance of maintaining a health service within Clifton.

CCHS Executive Director, Operations Wannapa Foytong said by offering doctors a scenic flight, it gives them a chance to get them to know the community.

“They get to see how beautiful the country is,”Ms Foytong said.

“The doctors working in Clifton will also be moving here so it’s about connecting
to the community.”

Ms Foytong said Dr Kenrick loved the flight and hoped it would encourage
her to return.

Mr Bange said LEFS is fully supportive of attracting doctors to not just work in Clifton but live here and be embraced by the community.

He stressed the importance of word-of-mouth advertising to try to
recruit doctors.

Mr Bange said Dr Kenrick herself had decided to be
a locum doctor at Clifton because of the good things she had heard first-hand.

It has been a difficult year for the Clifton Medical Centre as the number of doctors and subsequently the availability of consultations has dropped substantially.

The federal government’s decision to change Distribution Priority Area rules earlier this year allowed many doctors, who previously would have had to work in regional areas, to work in outer metropolitan areas.

This decision saw many medical centres in regional areas struggle to find doctors, including Clifton.

Dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic has also been a major hurdle.

Although the search for doctors has been long and strenuous, results have not
been what CCHS has hoped for.

Ms Foytong said the doctor search is coming along, albeit slowly, with a
positive outcome still in sight.

She said the temporary additions of Dr Kenrick and another locum, Dr Rob Ingham, have been helpful.

Dr Ingham and his wife, also a doctor, were shown around the area and considered Clifton as a career move.

Ms Foytong said CCHS would like to congratulate Dr Santi, who has passed his Fellowship, meaning which means he could become a GP supervisor.

She said things have been busy at CCHS.

“We’re working very hard to work with the community, with local and federal government, training bodies - the Australian Medical Association, the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners, who have been helping with the training and registration process,” she said.

“Although we’re not out of the woods, we’re hopeful and also very thankful of all the community support we’ve had.”

The new year is set to bring a pilot project to CCHS in January, which will be a new way to deliver medical surgery - “watch this space,” Ms Foytong said.

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