DR DESPAIR: How long you have to wait to see a Bundy GP
SHARON Wratten knows exactly what's up doc.
New to the region and without a GP, the mum-of-two phoned medical practices from the coast to Bundaberg West but continued to hear the answer.
"Sorry, we're not taking new patient appointments."
Mrs Wratten said she'd never experienced anything like it before moving to Bundaberg.
"I reckon I would have called about nine different practices," she said.
"I asked them if I could get an appointment and when they found out I was a new patient they said there were no new patient appointments available.
"I finally got an appointment but it wasn't for another two weeks."
Previously from Rockhampton, Mrs Wratten, who is married to NewsMail editor Adam Wratten, said she was used to waiting a couple of days, "but nothing like it is here".
She said the problem wasn't a shortage of practices, having called surgeries all throughout the Bundaberg region.
"After ringing around everywhere near my work place, I thought I'd try Bargara because I could go there on my way home, but even they were busy and full."
Mrs Wratten said, despite the doctor hiccup, since moving to Bundaberg with her family she had fallen in love with the town.
"I love Bundy," she said.
"I get to live close to the beach and the weather is a lot nicer here, but my daughter is on constant medication so I need to have access to a doctor."
For locals, waiting to see a GP is nothing new.
Last year, the NewsMail followed up on reports of the difficulty the region had in retaining doctors.
In June, Stockland and Hinkler Family Medical Practices director Dr David McDougall started a petition to have Bundaberg's remote classification changed from RRMA 3 to RRMA 4, like areas to the south including Maryborough, Hervey Bay and Gympie.
Dr McDougall's petition attracted 11,000 signatures and was presented in Federal Parliament but the government maintained that the Bundaberg region had a "superior" patient-to-doctor ratio when compared with the national average.
Meanwhile, family GPs are expected to get more money each visit in a measure that is expected to be handed out in tonight's Federal Budget. However experts say it won't be enough to address patient's out-of-pocket pain.