For the first time in its history, the Swift Street Medical Centre is running at full capacity.
According to centre co-ordinator Dr Ian Spencer, it has been a long struggle over the years to reach this point and much of the surgery’s success comes back to a decision he made years ago in 1978 after becoming a supervisor in Bourke of rural registrars training for general practice in the country.
His journey continued when he came to Wellington and discussed with hospital matron with Judy Scott the possibility of the hospital and surgery taking part in a scheme for training graduated doctors in country towns.
“Judy Scott and I believed that the only way that our hospital would survive in the long term, against the health department push to reduce our services and cut us back to a much smaller facility, was to push Wellington hospital as a training hospital and supplement the Swift Street Medical Centre itself as a training practice for rural general practice,” he said.
Doctors who train in Wellington have recently been able to extend their training period from six to 12 months, which he says is becoming more common.
Dr Spencer said it had been difficult to seek registrars who are trained in Wellington and choose to stay due to the stress of hospital and surgery work combined, but he was confident that doctors will elect to stay for much longer than previously.
“All of the practices work very co-operatively with each other and this is enormously important because it has allowed our doctors to take some time off and have the rest of the doctors in Wellington take up the load of patient care,” he said.
He feels that the combined dedication and co-operation of Wellington’s organisations, surgeries and the hospital has given rural registrars and students access to a broad range of career options.
“I know we have lost quite a lot of services over the last 20 years but the most essential services of an emergency department and acute beds for our patients as well as services like rehabilitation and palliative care, make our hospital an invaluable hospital supporting Dubbo Base Hospital and Orange Base Hospital,” he said.
“I can say from my Bourke experience that once the tipping point of success is passed that the future of a blooming success is almost inevitable.”