High disease rate and lack of GPs

EXPANDING residential development in the Cessnock area, combined with above state average rates of diseases, including obesity, diabetes and cancer, has raised alarm about the availability of healthcare in Coalfields towns.

Last night Cessnock City Council voted to seek advice on how to obtain finance and other strategies to attract medical practitioners to the town but a quicker response was urged by Cr James Ryan.

He said he wanted to show the council was ready to put money towards the problem and asked that the mayor be delegated to approve $15,000 to be put towards relocation of medical practitioners after further discussions with the Cessnock Community Healthcare.

The need for another general practitioner in Kurri Kurri is of high priority, a report to Cessnock City Council shows.

Cr Ryan’s ward includes Kurri but his plan was voted down.

Statistics in the report show rates of type-two diabetes, high cholesterol, obesity, asthma and psychological distress for males and females over 18 in the Cessnock local government area are all above the NSW average.

Other figures show deaths from cancers, heart and respiratory diseases, among other causes of death, are also all above the state average.

 The report says that because of the existing high disease rate, the present shortage of general practitioners and future population growth, Kurri is of ‘‘considerable concern’’.

The ratio of general practitioners to people in Kurri, Abermain, Weston and surrounding areas is one doctor for 2000 people compared with a benchmark of one to 1400 people, the report says.

It is estimated that represents a GP shortage of 3.4 full-time equivalent positions.

With approved lots for sale, approved residential rezoning and other proposals, a potential population increase of almost 6000 people is expected, pushing the GP shortage to 7.4 full-time equivalent positions, the report said. Heddon Greta and Cliftleigh are the two townships the council expects to feel most of the pressure.

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