Leigh Creek Energy donation keeps doors open for medical clinic

RESCUE: Leigh Creek Energys Stephen Batten, Dr Clive Hume and Leigh Creek Community Progress Association chair Darryl Bowshire. Photo: Leigh Creek Energy
RESCUE: Leigh Creek Energys Stephen Batten, Dr Clive Hume and Leigh Creek Community Progress Association chair Darryl Bowshire. Photo: Leigh Creek Energy

Communities in the states far north could face life without a local doctor if funding arrangements aren't met by the end of the next financial year.

Doctor Clive Hume has been the Practice Principal at the Leigh Creek Medical Clinic for 31-years, supporting the surrounding communities of IGA Warta, Nepabunna, Blinman, Beltana, Lyndhurst and many pastoral properties scattered throughout the region.

Dr Hume has reduced his visiting hours from full-time to once a week since the mine closure and despite the dwindling population, he remains a staple in the Leigh Creek community.

The Clinic treated about 35 patients per week last year and also delivers a full pharmacy service.

"There is absolutely no doubt that the local community very much appreciates the current medical practice, with its continuity of experienced doctors, the provision of a regular female doctor and the on-site pharmacy," Dr Hume said.

"In addition, I am on call for the Country Health SA nurses 24/7 to provide expert advice when required.

"Both are vital to the wellbeing of a robust community.'

The practice has been subsidised by the mine operator at the Leigh Creek Coalfield for many years, but as rehabilitation on the defunct coal mine comes to a close the community is in danger of losing this essential service.

The previous funding ceased in December 2018, but after much conversation with the community and various state government agencies, Leigh Creek Energy will continue funding until at least the end of 2019 with another $60,000 donation.

"There was real risk of Dr Hume's service to these far north communities ceasing without our support, so we're pleased to be able to make it possible for Dr Hume to continue doing this vital work at Leigh Creek," Leigh Creek Energy Managing Director Phil Staveley said.

"Leigh Creek Energy has had a presence in the region for a while and we are fully understanding of how important this service is to the local community."

If the Leigh Creek Medical Practice ceases operation, the local community would be forced to undertake a four-hour round trip to seek medical attention or pharmaceutical service.

Although the donation will keep doors open, Dr Hume said the future of the clinic remains uncertain.

"While I remain concerned about the service's future beyond the end of the 2018/19 financial year, I trust that the generosity of Leigh Creek Energy will be appreciated by the local community while it remains in the region," Dr Hume said.

"The service is costly to run, but without this assistance the impact to the region would be devastating to the many who rely on it."