by Jessica Lamb
THE region's doctor shortage has left patients frustrated, general practitioners overworked and increased pressure on services, as shown by the local hospital's busiest month in August.
Medical superintendent Dr Shaun Grimes said Proserpine Hospital had the equivalent of 15 full- time doctors and could rely on its strong relationship with GPs in times of crisis.
"It has been a challenging period, but there are no current plans to increase staffing numbers in the emergency department,” Dr Grimes said in September.
"Our roster can be adjusted to cope with expected increased activity and we have staff who can be recalled on each shift if necessary.
"Proserpine Hospital regularly review their level of clinical activity to ensure that services are properly resourced.
"At times there are longer waits because all patients are triaged to ensure the most urgent cases are seen first.”
Dr Grimes acknowledged wait times could be frustrating, especially when accidents occupied clinical resources, but said hospital staff appreciated the public's understanding.
"Our community knows if they or their family ever need urgent help, we will be there for them at that moment when they most need us,” he said.
"We are fortunate to have long-term permanent staff and have no difficulty in recruiting doctors to Proserpine.”