LEETON'S Doctor Mark Chernoff has been working in town for about the last 18 months, including at the town's hospital.
Dr Chernoff is a visiting medical officer at the Leeton District Hospital, meaning his volunteers to be part of the on-call roster for the facility - as several other doctors in town do as well.
Trained in many areas and specialties, he also runs his own business - Leeton Skin.
Since moving to Leeton he has completed 99, 24-hour shifts at the hospital as well as running his clinic.
"They (Murrumbidgee Local Health District) are trying to staff the hospital ... I have had many meetings with them on this issue and I do believe they are working hard to do that," Dr Chernoff said.
"The career medical officer (CMO) idea with Leeton is kind of difficult ... really it would take three CMOs to staff a hospital to replace the current on-call roster.
Dr Chernoff said there were many issues at play when it comes to Leeton's hospital and emergency care.
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Firstly, over the years the number of people seeking emergency care has dropped because many now go straight to Griffith under the idea that they may be seen quicker by a doctor.
There's also the fact Leeton's geography doesn't work in its favour in the eyes of the government, being close to other "major hospitals".
Dr Chernoff also believes if Leeton hospital's operating theatre was being used, that would go a long way into solving many of the concerns.
He said he chose to come to Leeton because of the operating theatre, but as yet he has been unable to complete surgeries there.
MLHD has told him there are a number of defects that need addressing in the operating theatre, despite it only being upgraded within the last decade.
Dr Chernoff said fixing these problems would help attract more doctors to the town or even those wanting to train here under his supervision.
He said all of that would help the current situation at the hospital.
The other issue is attracting doctors to town and keeping them here.
"We have a lot of competition out there ... there are over 100 sites out there across the country that are in the exact same spot we are," Dr Chernoff said.
"We've also got the older GP VMOs in town who have been doing the on-call roster for years and years that understandably want to step back.
"One of our other problems is we have GPs who are living and working in Leeton that don't want to do emergency (the on-call roster).
"That's their choice. They can't be forced to go on the roster. But it is a huge issue."
At present there are four permanent VMOs on the on-call roster, but there are also registrars who are training doctors who put their hand up as well.
At present, the MLHD is filling gaps with locums.
They (Murrumbidgee Local Health District) are trying to staff the hospital ... I have had many meetings with them on this issue and I do believe they are working hard to do that.Doctor Mark Chernoff
"I would love to have more doctors come here and help with their training in emergency, but many don't want to do it ... the risk is really high in emergency care," Dr Chernoff said.
"Once everything goes to back to normal after COVID though we will feel the pinch even more in Leeton when people start presenting to emergency more.
"MLHD when they say they won't be looking for a CMO for Leeton, they mean it's no longer a competitive offering to attract people here. It's not that they have given up, they have realised they need to think differently.
"We are currently using locum doctors.
"What that is doing is taking the pressure off the GP VMOs that live in the town.
"What is better would be to try and get people who haven't finished their training in town who need supervision under the GPs to complete that here.
"The problem with that is with COVID and borders, we don't have access to overseas doctors.
"We also need to try and recruit more doctors for Leeton. Even if they live nearby, but work here."
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