A town in southern Tasmania could be without a permanent doctor by the end of the year amid a widespread shortage of GPs.

Patrick O’Sullivan will end up at Dover Medical Center within the next six months after more than five years in the role.

Despite efforts to find a replacement, his impending departure is creating angst in the community, which has an older population and a higher rate of chronic disease.

“There is a very real fear that if our doctors leave, a number of people will have to leave the community to see a doctor or they won’t see anyone at all,” said Dover resident Jen Hadaway.

“It’s not a good scenario to consider.”

Huon Valley Council owns and operates the medical centers in Dover and Geeveston, and said it would keep them open by bringing in alternates to fill the posts of permanent doctors until replacements are found. .

Geeveston also need a permanent doctor, and there will be two vacancies at Dover by the end of the year.

Ms Doyle said the council would not close the centres.(ABC News: Will Murray)

“We understand the times are concerning for our community, however, the council is committed to continuing to operate the centres,” said Huon Valley Council Acting Mayor Sally Doyle.

“Hand on heart, we [council] are not closing medical centers in Dover and Geeveston.”

There are more than 60 GP vacancies in the state, and some take months or even a year to fill.

“But there are problems attracting doctors to these areas.”

The Huon Valley Council uses temporary GPs, but this means both centers will operate at a loss, costing taxpayers’ money.

“The Council is committed to covering the operating deficit of $434,000 in the 2022-23 budget,” Ms. Doyle said.

“Without the support of locums, we recognize that we cannot continue to provide this important healthcare service to the community.”

A man is sitting at a desk, holding a phone in one hand and using a computer with the other.
Dr Tim Jackson said general practice is not viable at this time.(ABC News: Luke Bowden)

The GP crisis is being keenly felt in parts of Tasmania, and there are fears that without immediate action the problem will worsen.

“The situation in Dover and Ouse is only an indication of where we are traveling if funding for general practice is not improved,” said Tasmanian RACGP Chairman Tim Jackson.

“General medicine is not viable right now.”

In an effort to address the doctors’ crisis, the state government has suggested resuming the operation of medical practices in regional and rural Tasmania.

“We expect the federal government to pay, and the state government to employ GPs and place our GPs in key settings to provide more access at this stage,” Premier Jeremy said. Rockliff.

“It’s an idea, and I would suggest to the federal government that there are many other ideas we could work on together.”

Dr. Saul sits beside his desk, staring seriously at the camera.
AMA Tasmania chairman John Saul said existing GP services should be supported.(ABC News: Luke Bowden)

The Tasmanian Australian Medical Association welcomed the announcement but said it was not a perfect solution.

“We need decent support from the federal government, and thankfully the state government is getting involved,” said AMA Tasmanian chairman John Saul.

“But the problem is that we know public clinics have not been successful in the past. We have good existing general practice services, so why not support them?”

Mr Rockliff said the issue was raised at yesterday’s cabinet meeting in Canberra, with the federal government pledging to improve the state’s healthcare system, particularly as it relates to the connection between general practitioners and hospitals.

“I look forward to further discussions with the federal government as we move forward with this ongoing work.”

But Dover locals like Ms Hadaway want less talk and more action.

“I think there needs to be a clear path forward, the community needs to know there are doctors they can rely on,” she said.