The Mid-Western Region’s Mudgee 4 Doctors (M4D) program has been recognised at the NSW Mining Health, Safety, Environment and Community Awards for its contribution to the health of the local community.
The program, a joint initiative between Glencore and the local medical community, was named as the NSW coal industry’s best community initiative for 2015.
“It’s fantastic. It’s an amazing award for the program and for Mudgee,” Dr Alex Ghanem said.
“It’s not just a mine initiative, it’s been fantastic for the community as well.
Mudgee 4 Doctors aims to attract doctors to the region by offering a range of financial and non-financial incentives, opportunities, and assistance.
Dr Ghanem, a key figure behind getting the program up and running, said so far Mudgee 4 Doctors had attracted six new doctors and their families to town.
“The success of the program has exceeded all expectations,” Dr Ghanem said.
“We’ve attracted new, enthusiastic GPs to town, and it’s been fantastic. We’ve been able to cut down waiting times and take some pressure off staff in both practices,
“With the lovely doctors we have at the Mudgee Medical Centre and the South Mudgee Medical Centre, we’re just overjoyed with the way the program is heading.
“Glencore has provided us with the tools and resources we’ve needed to get this program up and running.”
Instead of focusing solely on providing financial incentives, Mudgee 4 Doctors addresses all the needs of the doctors and their families.
“Be it childcare or integration into the community, that’s the strength of the program, looking beyond just handing out cheques but providing assistance and links for partners and children to help them settle into the community as well,” Dr Ghanem said.
Katrina Gay from Mudgee 4 Doctors said as a parent she had seen the impact the program has had on the community.
“When I first came to Mudgee four, five years ago it was extremely hard to get in to see a doctor, and now it’s a lot easier,” she said.
Mudgee 4 Doctors began in 2011 after discussions between Glencore and medical providers about community concerns about access to general practitioners.
Glencore’s Community Relations Manager, Craig Strudwick, said the program was a collaborative approach between community, industry and medical providers in the region.
“It was generally understood that other regional and rural areas across Australia were experiencing the same difficulties in attracting and retaining doctors,” Mr Strudwick said.
“So it was essential that our approach not only highlighted what the Mudgee region could offer, but provided as much assistance as possible for doctors who may be interested in relocating.
“It’s very rewarding to see the program on track to meet our overall target of 11 new doctors.”