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Blackwater GP clinic closes due to rural doctor shortage, putting other clinics under increasing pressure



A woman in a uniform sitting behind a desk with medical equipment


For nearly four decades, Glenda Martin has watched her GP practicing in a small mining town in central Queensland grow stronger and stronger as a pillar of support for her community.

But in recent years the practice’s ability to retain staff has taken its toll and, after 54 years of operation, Blackwater Healthcare Center has made the “extremely difficult decision” to close its doors permanently from today.

“It’s a very good practice. He takes care of patients and takes care of the mining sector, so it’s a big shock for the city,” said clinic director Ms Martin.

She said since the permanent GP left the practice in March, the team had tried a myriad of ways to find a replacement but had now exhausted all options.

Two women standing with their arms crossed in front of a placard.
Glenda Martin (left) and Michelle Window exhausted all options trying to find a permanent GP. (ABC Capricorn: Megan Hughes)

“We contacted Health Workforce, all the agencies, we registered the company to bring in overseas trained doctors, but no one wants to come to Blackwater,” she said.

The Rural Doctors Association of Australia said regional centers across the country were experiencing a shortage of doctors, but hoped some federal budget measures would help address the chronic problem.

A clinic remains

Blackwater has a population of almost 5,000 and serves a large number of mine workers by air.

Clinic director Michelle Window feared the closure would put additional pressure on the local hospital and the only remaining general practice clinic.