Doctor services start in Cowell

After about two years of no full-time doctors, the residents of the Franklin Harbour district now have access to a permanent doctor again, with services starting on Monday at the Cowell doctor surgery.

Whyalla doctor, Dr James Francis has been sending doctors from his practice to Cowell on a casual basis to provide the town’s residents with a GP service after the previous permanent doctor left the town.

However, as of Monday, Dr Francis has officially taken over the Cowell doctor’s surgery and will be sending doctors from his Whyalla practice to Cowell.

Franklin Harbour District Council chief executive officer Chris Smith said the doctors would provide services on a part-time basis initially.

“As residents are now going to other doctors, the doctors will be working on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays,” Mr Smith said.

“They will get here in the morning and work until there are no further patients for the day.

“As the demand builds back up here, they will be working Tuesdays and Thursdays as well.”

Mr Smith said Country Health SA also wanted Dr Francis’ doctors to do hospital work, as well as the on-call work, however these services would not start straight away.

“Currently Dr Francis has one staff who is currently credentialed for hospital work, who will frequent Cowell as asked by Country Health SA,” Mr Smith said.

“However, he doesn’t have enough staff with credentials to do the on-call work.

“Once more doctors get their credentials, the doctors will take on the on-call work.”

There is also hopes Dr Francis will take over the doctor’s house so the visiting doctors can stay overnight.

The takeover by Dr Francis marks the end of a year of negotiations between the Franklin Harbour District Council, Dr Francis, Country Health SA and the Eastern Eyre Health Advisory Council.

The service will also relieve the doctors in Cleve and Whyalla, with residents relying on these doctors while the negotiations were taking place.

The Franklin Harbour District Council will meet with Country Health SA chief executive Maree Geraghty on February 17.

People can book appointments at the Cowell doctor surgery by calling 8629 2504, or visiting the surgery at 17 South Terrace.