HOLBROOK has lost its only fully-accredited doctor on the eve of the busy Christmas-New Year period with fears the wider area has a chronic GP shortage.
After four years, Dr Delakshe Sentheeran, has returned to Sydney, but her departure has left Holbrook without a doctor with visiting medical officers privileges to treat patients admitted to the emergency and acute care areas of the town’s hospital.
Two other doctors in Holbrook don’t have the same level of medical credentials.
Dr Sentheeran’s final day in Holbrook was Monday and Greater Hume Shire mayor and Holbrook resident Heather Wilton said she would be sadly missed.
“She has given us four good years of service and we’ve been very fortunate,” she said.
“She is very well respected in the community and it is sad to see her go.
“But I understand her reasons.”
Murrumbidgee Local Health District confirmed it was working with the Murrumbidgee Primary Health Network and Holbrook Medical Centre to secure a replacement VMO “as soon as possible”.
“In the meantime, Holbrook hospital emergency department will be open 24 hours, seven days for medical emergencies during the holiday period,” MLHD cluster manager Mark Massey said.
“As is standard practice, patients requiring more acute care are transferred to Albury hospital after being triaged by highly-trained emergency nurses.
“A local GP will continue to provide care to aged care residents in the Harry Jarvis Wing.
“Holbrook hospital is also supported by the MLHD critical care advisory service which links smaller district hospitals to specialist medical advice.
“MLHD works in collaboration with private (GP) practices in local communities to provide (VMO) services at district hospitals.”
But Cr Wilton said her local government area was desperately short of GPs and queried why a replacement for Dr Sentheeran had not been found after she flagged plans to leave six months ago.
“We need 15 doctors in the Greater Hume Shire area, but we’ve got only six,” she said.
“The situation has become dire again.
“It’s up to the Murrumbidgee Local Health District to help and recruit the right type of people who can qualify to have VMO accreditation.
“Whatever is happening is clearly not working.”