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Monday, 3 June 2013
Page: 4910


Mr O'DOWD (Flynn) (10:55): Today I rise to talk about the eligibility of doctors in Flynn to be registered for Medicare provider numbers, and specifically a situation that has arisen in the historic town of Mt Morgan, which is about half an hour west of Rockhampton.

Mt Morgan is home to what was once one of the world's biggest goldmines. The town currently has around 2,000 residents and further supports roughly another 2,000 people living in surrounding communities, such as Bouldercombe, Dululu, Wowan and other small towns. The town's needs are currently serviced by a new public hospital with one doctor and another private clinic; however, obtaining doctors is an ongoing problem. The one doctor in the hospital is there by himself and requires the services of the private clinic, which helps him out on occasion when he goes on leave.

My specific concern today is the problems confronting the CQ Family Practice with their efforts to employ a second doctor with a Medicare provider number to alleviate pressure on the local health network. Traditionally, there have always been two doctors in Mt Morgan registered with Medicare provider numbers. However, since the sad passing of one of the town's valued health professionals, the community has been left with only one. The CQ Family Practice has since managed to find a suitable doctor willing to work in the town—which is no small feat—however, they are unable to overcome what they have been advised are restrictions to Medicare provider numbers to overseas trained doctors, despite the fact that the town has always had two such registered doctors in place. This is clearly an anomaly which must be rectified as soon as possible. I am reliably informed that the doctor applying for a Medicare provider number is currently doing amazing work in the community; working not just at a family practice but also at the public hospital and in an aged-care facility in the nearby town of Gracemere.

I urgently call on the health minister to look into this situation so that the community of Mt Morgan and surrounds can be given back the services it has always enjoyed in the past and urgently needs right now. The 2nd of July 2013 is D-day for this situation in Mt Morgan. Obtaining adequate services in rural and regional areas is hard enough without these sorts of bureaucratic roadblocks that have become typical of a government obsessed with red tape.