Kaniva, Goroke secure doctor for five years

A full-time doctor will serve Kaniva again in the near future, after months of the community only having access to a part-time professional.

West Wimmera Health Service chief executive Ritchie Dodds said the company Rural Doctors Proprietary Limited would supply the doctor, who would also make weekly visits to the Goroke Community Health Centre.

"The partner of one of the soon-to-be-ex-Tristar doctors owns this company," he said.

It follows the service last month terminating Tristar Medical Group's contract to provide GP services out of its Nhill and Kaniva facilities, with three months' notice.

Mr Dodds said at the time the organisation was having difficulty replacing doctors leaving its practices in both towns.

A spokeswoman for the service said it had signed a five-year contract Rural Doctors to provide a fully qualified GP to commence visiting patients at the Kaniva Hospital and residents at the Kaniva Nursing Home and Hostel.

She said Rural Doctors would also lease the Service's Kaniva and Goroke clinics to provide a bulk billing GP service predominantly at Kaniva.

The spokeswoman did not provide specific start dates for the new doctor, but also said an update on the Nhill GP situation was expected soon.

Member for Mallee Anne Webster said she continued to push for increased health services in the electorate. She said she had suggested to Health Minister Greg Hunt there should be a rural generalist postgraduate course for allied health students.

"So they are ready to go into regional settings, share after hours and be part of a team," she said.

"The Medicare rebating of telehealth has now gone to zones six and seven of the Monash Modified Medical Scale (which defines whether a location is a city, rural, remote or very remote for providing health services). I will be pushing for zone five, so a lot of areas around Horsham are included."

Dr Webster said the National Party had accepted her regional healthcare reform policy. She said she hoped Mallee would be used to trial some of the initiatives suggested.

The Mail-Times has contacted Rural Doctors for comment.

It has also contacted Tristar for comment on the future of its remaining Wimmera clinics in Ararat and Horsham, and whether it remained under financial stress after speaking with investment groups in May.