Coffs patients' long wait for GP

PATIENTS looking for a GP in the Coffs Harbour area continue to be faced with long waits, or even being turned away.

Doctors in Coffs Harbour need to service double the amount of patients their city counterparts see, according to the latest data provided by the NSW Rural Doctors Network.

There are around 60 doctors in the area, that makes an estimated 50 full-time equivalent (FTE) GPs to service the needs of patients.

This roughly translates to one doctor to every 1340 patients.

A patient at the 79 High Street Surgery said that the average to see her GP is anywhere between a month to two months when making the appointment.

“I'm slightly annoyed and frustrated, but I understand that there are only so many doctors and too many patients,” she said.

“It's not the doctor's fault that they're overstretched.”

Chief Executive Officer of the Mid North Coast (NSW) Division of General Practice Peter Spence said general practices had experienced difficulty in recruiting new doctors to the area.

“This situation has placed the existing doctors at significant disadvantage of having to cope with a heavy workload by working longer hours and having less time off than is acceptable,” Mr Spence said.

“We are very fortunate to have a workforce of committed, hard working GPs to work and remain in the area.”

Mr Spence said the Mid North Coast Division of Practice was working with GPs, the Area Health Service, North Coast GP Training, and the Coffs Harbour City Council on strategies to promote the area to attract more GPs.

Coffs Harbour is classified as a (Rural Remote Metropolitan Area Classification) RRMA 4 location based on a formula that includes the assessment of access to health services. Mr Spence said that this classification has an impact on the area's ability to attract medical practitioners as it includes additional workforce incentives.

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