Warwick doctor looks to the future
OUR TOWN OUR FUTURE - Dr Ross Hetherington
DR ROSS Hetherington has been an integral part of the medical scene in Warwick for over 20 years.
Prior to moving to Warwick in the mid 1990s, Dr Hetherington was the only doctor in the central Queensland town of Winton.
"Some days, especially during winter, I barely saw my four daughters," he said.
"They were busy times and I couldn't see the value in shipping them all off to boarding school where I'd see them even less.
"So when we saw a position come up in Warwick, we came, for the work and the schools."
When they arrived, Dr Hetherington said Warwick was in the midst of a doctor shortage.
"Not much has changed there," he said.
"It's still difficult to get doctors to come out here and to stay, but it is improving.
"We're pretty full here at the moment, but we can never meet the demand.
"We could really use another three or four doctors."
Dr Hetherington said a lot had changed for general practitioners over the years.
"Back then we delivered babies and even autopsies," he said.
"I'm a government medical officer and was always on call for any watch house requirements and the odd autopsy, but that stopped about 10 years ago."
In 2000 Dr Hetherington had a cancer scare and
took three months off to recuperate.
"That stopped me delivering babies then, as I couldn't guarantee the mothers I'd be there for the birth," he said.
"But it's all been long since resolved."
A staunch advocate for bringing doctors to rural areas, Dr Hetherington has also spent time on the board of Health Workforce Queensland.
"Our job was try and get doctors to come to the country and stay there," he said.
"That has since expanded to all areas of health.
"Graduates see us as country here, when we're really just an outer suburb."
Dr Hetherington said rural GPs were a fair bit different from their city counterparts.
"Because we don't have a specialist on every street corner, we still do a lot that city doctors don't," he said.
"We still stitch things up and cut nasty bits off."
For the future, Dr Hetherington sees a greater access to local specialists.
"Even if they're visiting, we should see an increase in the public system.
"There's a lot of money being spent on the Warwick Hospital and I'm definitely excited about the future of medicine in Warwick.
"Our health service is one of the best performing in the state and we're fighting hard for a piece of the pie," he said.
As for his future in Warwick, it's quite clear.
"We've just built a new house, we're not going anywhere soon."