Director of Medical Services taking on new role in Far West

The Far West Local Health District has much to thank Dr Kathleen Atkinson for the stability of its senior medical workforce, as she now chooses to embark on new career paths in the Far West.

Dr Atkinson is leaving the Far West LHD after two years to take on a senior role with the Royal Flying Doctor Service as the General Manager for Health Services Development (South East Section). She is also continuing on as the NSW Director of Rural Generalist (Medical) Training Program for HETI (Health Education Training Institute).

Dr Atkinson leaves the Far West LHD in a very good position regarding its medical workforce after two years as its Director Medical Services (DMS).

“I was excited to come out to the Far West when I took up the DMS role in September 2014. There hadn’t been a full time DMS resident in the LHD for quite a long time. When I first spoke to the Chief Executive (Mr Stuart Riley), we were on the same wave length where rural and remote health services can go if you start to focus on a generalist workforce,” said Dr Atkinson.

This led to much work in stabilising the senior medical workforce in medicine, anaesthetics, obstetrics and gynaecology, surgery and paediatrics.

Dr Atkinson was also pleased with the achievements in doctor training at the hospital.

“The training has been an exciting part. We now have capacity to train doctors to be rural procedural GPs in anaesthetics, obstetrics and palliative care. We’ve created three Registrar positions to be filled in 2017.

“The junior doctors who are on rotation from Concord Hospital (Sydney) are now gradually being recruited locally through the rural preferential recruitment program.

“Broken Hill now has the capacity to take local graduates as Interns and for them to do most of their medical training in Broken Hill.

“The work by the LHD has made it easier for doctors to be trained locally and embark on a career in the Far West. This strengthens and expands our medical workforce and that has positive flow on effects for the whole LHD,” said Dr Atkinson.

Whilst leaving the Far West LHD, Dr Atkinson will still be living in Broken Hill and working for the RFDS.

“I think the Far West is a really exciting place to work and live. We love living in Broken Hill and we’ve made huge number of friends here, Greg (her husband) and I are looking forward to many more happy years here.

“I would also like to acknowledge all my colleagues and LHD staff and also the Chief Executive, Stuart Riley. Without his vision and leadership, this wouldn’t be happening. You need a long term strategic approach for recruitment and retention in remote health services. I would like to thank Stuart and the FWLHD Board for supporting that and to my colleagues for helping me to carry it out.”

The Far West LHD Chief Executive, Mr Stuart Riley, acknowledged and praised Dr Atkinson for her dedication to the role of Director Medical Services and her achievements during her time with the LHD.

“Fortunately, Dr Atkinson will be remaining in Broken Hill and continue to work closely with the Far West LHD to improve interaction and integration between the LHD and the RFDS.

“On behalf of the Far West LHD and Board, we wish all the best to Kathleen and look forward to working with her as she takes up her new roles.”


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