Eleventh-hour reprieve as Tassie clinic spared closure

2 minute read

The state has stepped in at the last moment to keep East Devonport Medical Centre working as a standalone clinic.

The East Devonport Medical Centre will remain open, after a last-minute announcement from the Tasmanian government. 

After being in business for almost half a century, the clinic – located in a lower socio-economic area of the island state – was set to merge with a larger practice run by Better Medical from the beginning of February. 

Around 4000 patients were on the books, with some going so far as to say they would simply start presenting to emergency if the medical centre were to shut down.  

The clinic had struggled to attract full-time GPs since the change to distribution priority areas in 2022, which allowed even Hobart and Launceston to attract overseas-trained doctors. 

“All of Tasmania … is open and eligible for overseas-trained doctors – that could be either the west coast, the northwest coast or it could be the capital in Hobart,” Better Medical Tasmania manager Brett McPherson said. 

“That makes it difficult to attract doctors outside of those particular areas.”  

Tasmanian Health Minister Guy Barnett said the East Devonport Medical Centre would be closed for a short period but reopen “within two months”. 

He said it was “disappointing” that the government had had to intervene.  

“As I have previously stated: Tasmania is bearing the brunt of a chronic shortage of GPs,” Mr Barnett said.  

“This is having serious flow-on effects throughout our health system, including putting additional strain on our hospitals, and in particular our emergency departments. 

“Clearly, we’re not sitting around waiting for the federal government to fix broken Medicare GP funding.”  

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