Mt Isa doctors to be slashed by half

Following the departure last year of four of the town’s doctors, two more have indicated they will leave at the end of 2013.

Chair of the Central and NorthWest Queensland Medicare Local (CNWQML) Phil Barwick told MO that from an initial GP workforce of 11 at the start of last year, the town’s seven remaining doctors constituted — in his experience — the lowest number the area had ever had.

“This will cut us in half. We should have 20 doctors in town,” he said. “It will blow waiting times of practices to something like four or five weeks. It puts an added strain on existing doctors… [and] there is an added impact on the emergency department in our hospital.”

Mr Barwick said changes to the remote areas classification, which governs the level of financial incentives doctors are eligible for when working in regional and remote areas, had seen coastal areas like Townsville and Cairns included in the