German-trained orthopaedic surgeon Dr Christoph Ahrens has confirmed he is making alternative plans to leave the country if his case to continue practicing locally is rejected on December 6 this year.
The much-needed surgeon is locked in a long running dispute with the Royal Australian College of Surgeons and the Australian Orthopaedic Association who say he needs to undergo more training to continue practicing in Australia.
Dr Ahrens again addressed an inquiry into rural health services by the Senate’s Community References Committee on Tuesday but feels their supportive recommendations to have him registered are falling on deaf ears.
“Whenever I go up there and talk to the committee they are very understanding but there needs to be a policy change at the government level,” he said.
“I have to make other plans, what I call plans B and C and while staying in this area as long as I can is plan A, I need something up my sleeve in case I’m not granted another extension in December.”
Dr Ahrens is disappointed that barriers remain for his desire to remain in Australia despite an obvious need for more rural doctors.
“You don’t move across the globe to just give it a shot,” he said.
The case has been supported by Member for Eden-Monaro Dr Mike Kelly who organised a meeting in Canberra with Dr Ahrens some months ago.
Liberal party member Peter Hendy, who is expected to run against Dr Kelly at the next federal election, has also made public his support this week.
“His (Dr Ahrens) case highlights the problems rural areas face in getting access to adequate health services,” Mr Hendy said.
“Last year the Rural Doctors Association of Australia stated that this case ‘demonstrates why a more flexible model for assessing specialist overseas trained doctors is urgently needed’.”
He hoped the senate inquiry would fast track a positive solution for Dr Ahrens dilemma.
“People on the South Coast are completely bemused that a doctor of good standing has been treated this way and hope the matter can be resolved quickly,” Mr Hendy said.