25 Aug 2010

Doctors sign up to work in Balclutha

1:59 pm on 25 August 2010

Relief is on the way for medical services in the South Otago town of Balclutha, one of the rural areas struggling with a chronic shortage of doctors.

A Balclutha general practice, which needs about four full-time GPs, has been operating at about half that staffing level and was facing the prospect of being reduced to one full-time doctor.

German-born doctor Astrid Bodendiek has accepted a one-year contract after coming to New Zealand through NZLocums, the rural recruitment arm of the Rural General Practice Network.

She has already worked in Balclutha and will return next month.

Ray Anton of Clutha Health First, a community-owned organisation that provides hospital and GP services in the town, says a second doctor from Britain has signed an extended contract, and a third contract is being negotiated.

Mr Anton says Clutha Health First has also taken on two specialist nurses to provide back up for doctors in urgent cases and to help with seven day a week medical coverage. The nurses start next week.