• Tony Bosworth

Hawkesbury’s only late night GP clinic to close end of the month

The Hawkesbury will be left without a late night after-hours GP clinic with the closure of the clinic at Hawkesbury Hospital from next week.

The Hawkesbury District Health Service (HDHS) say they are making the move due to low demand and “recruitment challenges”.

It means that if you need a doctor after 7pm in the Hawkesbury after Monday January 31, your only option is to visit the hospital’s Emergency Department or to travel to Penrith where there are several late night GP services.

The decision to close the clinic has been made in consultation with Wentworth Healthcare (the provider of the Nepean Blue Mountains Primary Health Network) and the Nepean Blue Mountains Local Health District,” say the HDHS in a statement.

The shut-down means there are only a handful of GPs in the Hawkesbury open until 7pm, but it may be hard to get in to any of those unless you are registered with that doctor or surgery.

At the hospital, you could simply turn up and see a doctor. Hawkesbury District Health Service CEO, Strephon Billinghurst, said the clinic was opened 6 years ago to meet a gap in after-hours health care in the region. “In that time, the service has provided more than 30,000 patient consultations,” he said. “GP practices in the region have steadily increased their after-hours services, with 11 now operating in the evening and on weekends,” he says. “As such, this has led to a decline in demand for the hospital-based service.”

We found 3 medical centres in the Hawkesbury open until 7pm – well short of the10pm the hospital offered – and one open on a single day until 7pm.

Some others are open to 6pm, often on individual days, but it’s hardly late-night. Mr Billinghurst said difficulties in recruiting for positions within the after-hours GP clinic had also made it hard to provide a reliable service to the community. “While this decision is regrettable, we are confident that our community has a range of after-hours health care services available to them, including our Emergency Department for urgent and acute care,” he said.

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