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Byron Shire
June 21, 2021

Doctors’ Rights

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I am a part-time Mullumbimby GP and have worked in town for the last five-and-a-half years. I am also the mother of a young child and have a rich and busy life outside of medicine.

Reading David Bradbury’s letter last week, I felt insulted at his presumptions. Derek Mallon’s letter this week was more civil but again seems to me to assume a lot.

To me, moving to this area to live and work in no way obliges me to work after hours in emergency. Being a doctor does not imply some sort of required extra service to the community above and beyond any other job (or as David says, ‘this service goes with the job and with the benefits of living in this community. They should be willing to give back’). What, David, does this apply only to doctors? Perhaps plumbers, lawyers, physiotherapists and everyone else are also somehow obliged to work practically free through the night as a community service merely in return for living here?

I feel I do provide a good service to the community in my work as a GP, and yes David I do ‘collect my Medicare cheques, otherwise known as getting paid, for my work. Aside from being almost unpaid, the after-hours hospital work actually requires you to sleep overnight at the hospital if you live 15 minutes away. How many people in any profession do you know who would spend a night sleeping at the hospital, getting woken up at 3am for a call out, get up and go to work the next day and get paid 120 bucks for the whole thing?

There are many kinds of doctors and I am fortunate enough to work with some of the Mullum GPs who have given many years of service in and out of hours to their community and worked extraordinarily hard (they are, I note, mostly men who had wives at home). I deeply respect and admire them but I also strongly feel that this is not the only worthy type of GP, the kind we should all be.

Medicine has changed a lot and I feel this is a great thing. It can now be a flexible and family-friendly job and I feel patients benefit from having a range of doctors in the community. My life outside of medicine, in which I have always worked part time, makes me the person and the doctor I am and informs the way I practise. I am proud of the service I provide to my lovely patients and I feel much appreciated by them. It would be great if David, Derran and others could also respect doctors’ rights to choose the way they live and work as much as anybody else.

The hospital is a great service and everyone hopes it will continue to operate, but putting the blame onto doctors who choose for many and varied reasons not to work after hours is simplistic and disrespectful.

Dr Rosie Hamilton, Goonengerry

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  1. The most intelligent and non-confrontational Echo Letter I’ve read since I moved to this area 10 years ago. More please.


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