After-hours service closes
IT'S not often the closure of a doctor's office is a sign of good news for the Coffs Coast, but the final days of the After Hours Medical Service is one of the rare exceptions.
Started as a co-operative by local GPs 25 years ago to give residents access to doctors in the evening and on weekends, the practice was an essential service for people who could not get an appointment during the day because of a shortage of GPs.
But the growth of clinics offering extended hours has gradually reduced the need for the service and Monday marked the closure of the clinic in what is seen as great news for patients.
Toormina GP Ian Arthur was one of the founders of the service and said the closure was regrettable but agreed the range of options available to residents now was good news.
"Over the last few years several extended-hours clinics have opened in Coffs Harbour and the undersupply of GPs has been reduced therefore reducing the demand for after-hours medical services," he said.
He said the decision of the original 23 GPs to open and staff the clinic led to it becoming the most successful and long-standing co-operative after-hours services in Australia.
Dr Arthur thanked patients who supported the clinic over its lifetime on behalf of staff.