ALBURY-Wodonga’s hugely successful Border Medical Recruitment Taskforce needs to find $100,000 to keep attracting and retaining doctors.
Yesterday it appealed for help from the Border community to make up the shortfall in its annual $150,000 budget.
The taskforce has attracted almost 90 doctors to Albury-Wodonga since it began six years ago.
At the time, in 2006, just three Border GP practices were taking on new patients; one of those was specifically for the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community.
Recruitment officer Denise Klemm said the taskforce had been so successful that much of its role now was to support the medical community, especially newly arrived doctors.
“We also work closely with the registrars and Bogong Regional Training Network to make sure we maintain what we’ve got,” she said.
“A lot of our work now is about retention.”
Mrs Klemm said the taskforce had been strongly supported by organisations such as the Albury and Wodonga councils, Albury Wodonga Private Hospital, Albury Day Surgery and The X-Ray Group.
“Without the relationship with the councils we would have been in all sorts of trouble,” she said.
Mrs Klemm said an example of how the taskforce’s work had diversified was the work done with Border real estate agents to source quality homes.
Her work is multi-faceted: some of the jobs included organising a winery tour, finding an out-of-town house with a paddock for a horse and helping doctors make new friends.
She said it was extremely important the medical community continued to support its members.
“Sometimes it’s just a matter of us helping to lift the momentum,” she said.
“A lot of what’s happened in general practice is a result of the Gardens Medical Centre.
“One of probably the most important things is that it’s not one person doing this.
“It’s the fact that the community organises itself to do something about it — you’re just conducting an orchestra to some extent.
“The band can play without you but it might get out of tune.”
Mrs Klemm said the taskforce was also mindful of the area becoming a model for other doctor-starved centres, such as Bendigo and Tamworth.
But Mrs Klemm said the Border was not in competition with other areas, as “it’s about regional communities doing it for themselves”.
Offers of financial assistance can be made by phoning (02) 6041 2677.