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Why can’t we get permanent general practitioners for our country town?

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To the Editor: A rural general practitioner’s workload is significantly larger than that of his or her urban colleagues, and this is attributable to work activities in rural public hospitals.1 A GP who provides after-hours on-call service to the community through the local hospital or emergency department is not only valued, but also more likely to be retained in the rural workforce.2 However, on-call commitments and the unrelenting nature of after-hours care can negatively affect professional and personal wellbeing, family life and opportunities to enjoy the rural location.3

I currently work in the city, but did much of my training in rural and regional areas. Doing GP locums allows me to stay in touch with rural and regional practice. However, working as a locum has highlighted to me how arduous on-call commitments can be. When you are working as the solo town doctor, or one of two, there is not much opportunity to share the on-call roster as recommended by the Rural Doctors Association of Australia.4

In my experience, some hospitals have restrictive service contracts, which further contribute to the GP’s burden. For example, the doctor is mandated to be within 10–15 minutes…