STRENGTH IN NUMBERS: Pharmacist Alex Elfeki supports the committee trying to establish a medical practice that is owned and run by the town.

By JOHN DOOLEY

WENTWORTH’S campaign for a town doctor this week won the backing of a local pharmacist and the district’s federal MP Susan Ley.

Pharmacist Alex Elfeki said: ‘’The committee is trying to establish a medical practice that is owned and run by the town. We have been trying to achieve this for more than two years now to no avail.

“The demographics of Went-
worth reflect an ageing population in their 60s and with that comes with a lot of problems.

“Many of them have a number of chronic conditions which will worsen over time, with one condition leading to another.”

Mr Elfeki said he recently had a patient come to him complaining of excruciating pain in their legs, something they had been putting up with for a long time.

“They presented to me as having a blood clot and I urged them to go to the hospital straight away,” he said. |

“The next day they told me that had they waited for another day, they may have had to have their leg amputated.”

A petition is being tabled in the NSW Parliament by Member for Murray Helen Dalton to have a facility made available to the community, something the Wentworth Shire Council foreshadowed in 2016 as part of its Community Health Strategy.

“One site suggested for the health clinic is the former Wentworth Club building,” Mr Elfeki said.

“Such a facility would enable a telehealth system to be put in place that would be run by a full-time nurse who could assist patients to set up their online appointment with their practitioner.

“The clinic would accommodate visiting specialists on a monthly basis and a pathology testing room for a visiting collector to conduct blood tests.”

The ‘Weekly contacted Member for Farrer Sussan Ley’s office and the Federal Rural Health Minister, Mark Coulton, for comment.

Ms Ley said: “The current cross-border challenges has made it very clear that Wentworth needs a doctor long term, and I won’t be happy until they do.”

“For one reason or another, the recent private GP clinics haven’t stacked up commercially, so we really are looking for a primary care model which is going to work for the community but also be sustainable,” she said. 

Minister Coulton said: “The Coalition Government understands that no two rural communities are the same; which is why we are supporting rural communities to develop their own flexible, innovative and integrated primary care models.

“Finding local, sustainable health care solutions will also help address the misdistribution of GPs across Australia, and also deliver improved access to services for rural communities, like Wentworth.

“I have met with the general manager of Wentworth Shire Council to discuss what they are trying to achieve and how the Commonwealth could help.”

• On Wednesday, Wentworth Shire Council  voted to provide funding of up to $170,000, to establish a medical clinic in Wentworth in support of a proposal by the Coomealla Health Aboriginal Corporation by the end of August. It is proposed the clinic will initially open for two days per week.