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Model of neurological care in North and North West Tasmania needs to be addressed

27 June 2017

MS Australia is disappointed to read in recent media reports that there have been problems with providing a neurological service in North and North West Tasmania (N&NWT).

It has been widely reported that Dr Koshy has left the N&NWT health service (based in Launceston) for “greener pastures” in Melbourne.

We are pleased to read that the N&NWT health service will continue to provide a temporary “stop gap” neurological service through the use of locums, and that the health service has commenced the recruitment process for Dr Koshy’s replacement.   However when, and indeed if, a replacement can be found, will the same circumstances of dissatisfaction and departure simply be repeated?

This situation points to a perennial problem for rural, regional and remote health services – how to attract and retain doctors and other health professionals and how to provide an effective service that is not just a “black hole” of funding.

Perhaps this provides the opportunity to review the model of neurological care right across Tasmania?

A significant percentage of people with multiple sclerosis (MS) who live in north and northwest Tasmania, already travel to Hobart for neurological services.  It’s worth noting, you are four times more likely to be diagnosed with MS if you are born in Tasmania compared to the national average and seven times more likely than if you were born in North Queensland.

“A new model of sharing specialist neurological services across the State, could be adopted”, says Deidre Mackechnie, CEO of MS Australia and Chair of the Neurological Alliance Australia.

“This might involve establishing a multidisciplinary, nurse-led clinic in Launceston that shares specialist neurological services with other centres in the State.  Some additional travel would no doubt be involved, but a model based on a system of shared resources could be a better option which ensures people with progressive degenerative neurological conditions such as MS, receive the regular, specialist services they need”, she said.

To read ABC's new story regarding the situation: