New doctor to help ease GP shortage

By Abbey Flanagan

Dr Ben James will help ease the pressure of Deniliquin’s GP shortage.

Dr James moved to Deniliquin recently with his wife Rachel, who is also a doctor, and has taken up a position at Deniliquin Clinic.

Originally from Adelaide, Dr James had been practising at Wagga Base Hospital and Temora for the past two years, working as a GP Registrar and Anaesthetist and his wife working in obstetrics.

Dr Rachel is still in Wagga undergoing GP training and will relocate permanently to Deniliquin to join Dr Ian Dumbrell’s Deniliquin Central Clinic in August.

‘‘We needed to go to a town with enough births for my wife’s obstetrics and that would allow me to continue anaesthetics and a place that needed doctors,’’ Dr James said.

‘‘There were five places for us to choose from, but it was the town’s support network, the river, and being closer to Adelaide that made us pick Deniliquin.’’

And adjusting to life in Deniliquin hasn’t been a problem for the new doctor.

‘‘It’s very good here in Deni and I’m enjoying myself,’’ he said.

‘‘I’ve already ticked catching a Murray Cod off my list of things to do.

‘‘I can’t wait for my wife to arrive though.’’

Dr James is in his sixth year of practice and said becoming a doctor was actually a ‘‘fallback’’ for him.

‘‘I always wanted to be a research biochemist and I loved studying it in university, however I never completed my PHD and realised I wanted something with more immediate gratification.

‘‘I want to have a positive influence on the lives of others,’’ he said.

The doctor’s move to Deniliquin is sure to have a positive influence on the town’s overall health, helping to ease the long-running doctor shortage.

Dr James said there is no easy answer to rural doctor shortages.

‘‘There is an enormous deficit in doctors around the area. It’s not a poor reflection on pathways for doctors but a reflection of how specialty medicine has evolved to mandate extended training in a tertiary environment.

‘‘It’s not necessarily that people don’t want to go to the bush, but by the time they have finished their studies and established life in urban places they are less likely to move. Perhaps a lack of providing training options in the region accounts for the lack of doctor supply in the area.’’