Over 7,000 people will have reduced access to primary health care across the Walgett Shire, with two long-standing medical practices closing their doors.
The charitable organisation, Rural and Remote Medical Services (RARMS) announced the closure of its practices in Lightning Ridge and Walgett with heavy hearts this week.
CEO, Mark Burdack says the escalating costs of primary health care and the historic underfunding of rural and remote health have made it increasingly difficult to attract and retain permanent doctors in remote communities.
“It’s with deep sorrow that we are closing our doors on the 2nd of May.”
“As a charity, our job is to help rural and remote communities to fill growing gaps in access to public health care services and keep permanent jobs local.”
“Unfortunately, in Lightning Ridge and Walgett, this was not sustainable or viable after the loss of Western NSW Local Health District VMO (visiting medical officers) contracts.”
“Attracting and retaining GPs and health staff has become increasingly difficult with the continued underfunding of remote health care.”
“We remain hopeful that the NSW and Senate inquiries into rural health will finally listen to rural and remote people about how to fix rural health.”
"Too often funding has gone to the cities to fix rural health, rather than to rural and remote communities, and the problems are now worse than ever.”
"It's time for rural money to go to local people to create rural jobs and fix rural health.”
“For now, we would like to thank our amazing staff, the community, and our partners who helped us provide essential health care in these remote areas.”
“We hope to be back in the future and will continue to support and advocate for these remote communities however we can. It’s farewell, but we hope not goodbye.”
RARMS will continue to operate in Collarenebri and any patients wishing to remain with the RARMS charity can have their medical records transferred. Bookings can be made by calling 02 5809 9505 or online at rarms.org.au.
If you wish to transfer your medical records to another primary health provider in your area, please contact us on 02 6829 1188 to coordinate this transfer.
RARMS has called on governments to establish a $300 million Rural Health JobKeeper program to help stop the further closure of rural and remote general practices while a rural solution to the growing rural GP workforce crisis is implemented.
For any further inquiries please contact Mark Burdack on 0418 974 988.