'Systemic failure': Calliope still without a GP
SIX months after reopening Calliope's only medical centre, the service is still without a full-time general practitioner.
The centre reopened as a branch of the Gladstone GP Superclinic in April, after former owners Medifield closed the practice in August 2017 and went into liquidation.
Director John Bird hopes to secure a doctor to service the town of almost 5000 people in about four months, but said so far the recruitment process had been "extremely difficult".
Dr Bird said one of the main challenges was they needed a qualified doctor who did not require supervision, a rare qualification in regional areas.
"I expected this to be difficult ... but goodness me, the people of Calliope ought to be served better," Dr Bird said.
"No one would realise how hard this is," Dr Bird said.
He said there was a need for "fundamental change" in the Federal Government's approach to the medical industry.
He recommended the first change should be a cap on the number of doctors servicing urban areas, where he said they were oversupplied.
"It's part of the systemic failure of governments for decades in relation to addressing the distribution of the workforce," he said.
Dr Bird said with extra training, there was potential for one of the three doctors who recently started working at the Gladstone GP Superclinic to be relocated to Calliope.
Alive Pharmacy Calliope owner Nick Loukas is also holding onto hope that a GP will begin servicing the region soon.
Since the former medical centre closed down Mr Loukas said his business struggled to make a profit, with some residents opting to fill their scripts in Gladstone instead.
Mr Loukas said Calliope's population should support up to four doctors.
"Not having a doctor in this town affects the viability of the business we have," he said.
"We're there for the long term but without a doctor in town it makes it difficult to have a profitable business," he said.
Member for Flynn Ken O'Dowd said the Federal Government is considering initiatives to help attract junior doctors to regional areas.
"They say it takes a village to raise a child, same can be said for attracting health professionals because it can be a very stressful and demanding role," he said.
Mr O'Dowd and Federal Minister for Regional Services Bridget McKenzie met with Dr Bird when Ms McKenzie visited Gladstone last month.
Ms McKenzie said they were considering changing billing rates to provide a "financial incentive" for doctors to choose a regional area over urban.
"What we do know is the range of doctors per thousand in the more remote areas is 1.7 doctors per 1000 Australians, and in those over-serviced areas it's more than four.
"That's just not fair."