Tasmania’s government is working to find an alternative health provider for a remote community set to lose its only GP clinic because the practice can’t meet the COVID-19 vaccination mandate.
The Central Highlands General Practice in the tiny town of Ouse has signalled its intention to close from November.
In a letter sent to patients and obtained by the ABC, its owners say the practice “will not be able to meet the requirements as set out by the mandate for all healthcare workers in Tasmanian health care settings” and its last day will be October 29.
The state Liberal government requires all health workers have at one dose, or have made a vaccination booking, by October 31.
“Access to medical advice and care is something that we know is critical for our regional communities,” Health Minister Jeremy Rockliff said in a statement on Tuesday.
“I have spoken with Central Highlands mayor Loueen Triffitt in relation to the closure of the Central Highlands General Practice.
“The Department of Health has also been in direct contact with the practice, noting it is a privately-run business.
“The department is considering how the state government may be able to support an alternative provider to operate in the area, including through the continued provision of free premises.”
Ms Triffitt said earlier this week that the closure of the general practice would impact about 1200 patients.
Ouse has a population of roughly 300 people and is about 90km northwest of Hobart.
Mr Rockliff said he would meet with rural workforce agency HR-Plus later this week.
“This critical step of mandatory vaccination in healthcare settings is not a decision that has been taken lightly,” he added.
“We have seen in NSW the devastating impact the virus can have in our healthcare sectors.
“We must act now and not wait to protect those who work in these settings, to protect their loves ones, patients and the broader community.”
Tasmania, which has recorded just one coronavirus case this year, has set a population-wide vaccination target of 90 per cent by December.