New doctor to provide full range of medical services
By Michael Sinclair-Jones
DOCTORS will return to Toodyay at the end of May or early June.
Local physiotherapy and pathology services are also due to resume.
Former local practitioner Dr Akeem Lawal has signed a five-year contract with the Shire of Toodyay to re-open the town’s currently vacant Alma Beard Medical Centre.
Dr Lawal provided medical services at the Toodyay surgery last year until the Northam-based Wheatbelt Health Network announced its shock closure last November.
A lack of sufficient Federal Government funding through the national Medicare rebate scheme was blamed for the closure.Read more
The Stirling Terrace medical centre is owned by the Shire of Toodyay, which has spent the past five months looking for replacement doctors amid a nation-wide shortage of country GPs and the closure of other regional medical centres.
The Wheatbelt Shire of Quairading recently offered more than $800,000 to attract a doctor to that town.
Toodyay Shire CEO Suzie Haslehurst said the shire-owned medical centre in Stirling Terrace would re-open with two doctors and a nurse practitioner.
She declined to publicly disclose the value of the new Toodyay medical centre contract on gounds of commercial confidentiality.
A start date was set at nine weeks from March 23 when the contract was signed.
Ms Haslehurst said the Wheatbelt Health Network (WHN) had agreed to transfer Toodyay patient records to Dr Lawal free of charge to enable his new medical team to offer local continuity of service.
The new contract included a requirement to provide Toodyay residents with ancillary medical services such as physiotherapy, pathology and podiatry.
The centre had previously been used by the Wheatbelt Health Network for free.
WHN Chief Executive Officer Catherine Milliner declined to say if patient records for Northam consultations after the Toodyay closure would be transferred back at no cost.
Dr Lawal said he was looking forward to returning to work in Toodyay.
He said the Alma Beard Medical Centre would re-open for a minimum of four days a week, starting with two doctors.
“High-level” talks were underway to restore local pathology services, and he was also negotiating with a “couple of physiotherapists” for Toodyay.
A current housing shortage in Toodyay made it difficult to attract suitably qualified staff and he was looking to acquire local property to help accommodate that need.
Dr Lawal said he was married with three children.
He had worked for a year as a GP in Toodyay until last November after doing similar work in Northam the previous year.
He was currently living temporarily in Northam but planned to buy a house in Toodyay.
Dr Lawal said he had also worked in Tasmania for four years after studying medicine at Lagos in Nigeria and working for three years in UK hospitals.
He was also working as a senior instructor with the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons and had spent the past 10 years teaching surgical trainees, junior emergency doctors and other GPs interested in emergency medicine.
“I love country medicine, which is why I am pleased to return to Toodyay,” Dr Lawal said.
“I’m hoping also to attract medical students to Toodyay to see if they like working in the country and to train as future country doctors.”