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We have an ongoing locum vacancy

for a General Practitioner (VMO)

Coober Pedy, Outback South Australia


Coober Pedy Medical Practice, deep in the dry, dusty heart of Outback South Australia is seeking locum doctors for two week GP/ED locums throughout the year. The role is a uniquely challenging and rewarding one which involves General Practice duties from Monday to Friday, combined with 24/7 emergency on call at Coober Pedy Hospital.


Coober Pedy Medical Practice & Hospital

Lot 89, Hospital Road,

Coober Pedy, SA 5723


Locum GP/VMO with 24/7 On-call


Year round locum requirements.

Various dates are available. 


Coober Pedy Hospital

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SURGERY OVERVIEW:                      

Coober Pedy is a remote town in outback South Australia, approximately 850km from Adelaide. Clinical services are limited to a general practice and a small 23 bed hospital.

The original Coober Pedy Hospital was a timber framed single story structure built in 1965. In the early days the hospital was staffed by 2 registered nurses and serviced by The Royal Flying Doctor Service (RFDS). In 1976 the hospital was updated to a 15 bed hospital and a new Community Health Centre was opened for a Medical Practice and other Community Allied Health Services.


Far North Health Services South Australia have been running the Coober Pedy Hospital and the adjacent medical practice for the last 10 years, relying exclusively on locum cover. The surgery is normally staffed by one permanent and one locum general practitioner. The locum also provides 24/7 emergency cover to Coober Pedy Hospital. The Hospital is a 19 bed facility consisting of 14 acute, 9 high dependency residential beds and 1 palliative care bed. The hospital is supported by the RFDS.


Coober Pedy's medical services are made up of Coober Pedy Hospital and a two doctor medical practice. This is a 24/7 GP /ED locum position undertaking normal daily GP clinics at the Medical Practice with additional, round the clock on call ED responsibilities at Coober Pedy Hospital.


Ongoing demand for locum ED/GPs throughout the year on a 2 week rotating roster.


The surgery is owned and operated by Far North Health Services Country Health South Australia.


The Coober Pedy Medical Practice is located within the Community Health Centre, adjacent to Coober Pedy Hospital. It is staffed by one local, part time General Practitioner and one full time locum General Practitioner. The surgery has a fulltime receptionist and Registered Nurse. 


The Coober Pedy doctor’s surgery is a two doctor medical practice which operates from Monday to Friday only.

Consulting hours are Monday to Friday: 9.30am to 12.30pm, 2.00pm to 4.00pm.

Dr Kami is the other GP at the clinic. He owns an opal mine and runs a day only GP practice. He does not partake in any hospital work and his patients are referred to the hospital for any after hour requirements.

Hospital rounds are conducted from 8.30am to 9.00am each day and clinics at Umoona Aged Care facility are sometimes conducted between 4.00pm and 4.30pm.

Clinic staff are very supportive to the locum GP and can cancel clinics if doctor has had a busy night in ED and needs to catch up on sleep.


Surgery staff consist of a full time Receptionist, a Registered Nurse and a Practice Manager who can handle any administrative matter known to Medicare. The clinic is fully computerized, using Medical Director.


Both the surgery and the hospital are very well supported with permanent and agency nurses (RNs & ENs), some of whom have an X Ray license, should this be required during emergencies. Coober Pedy Medical Practice has one full time Registered Nurse who is available from Monday to Friday: 8.30am to 5.00pm. The Community Health Centre also provides Community Health Nurses to care for patients in the homes and throughout the wider community.


Pt. Augusta Hospital & Regional Health Services provides an Allied Health Outreach Service visiting each month and comprising of:

  • Podiatrist

  • Occupational Therapist

  • Speech Pathologist

  • Aged Care Assessment Team (ACAT)

  • Dietitian

  • Physiotherapist


Other Visiting Services

  • Continence Nurse Advisor visits twice a year

  • Child & Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) visits monthly

  • RDWA Rural Women’s GP Service visits monthly

  • Optometrist visits bi-monthly

  • Bone Density Unit visits every two years

  • Breast Screening Unit visits every two years


Visiting Specialist Services

  • Paediatrician visits Bi monthly

  • Cardiologist visits bi-monthly

  • Psychiatrist visits 4-6 weekly


The hospital has an X ray facility for emergency radiography. It is staffed by credentialed Registered Nurses. The nearest alternative facility is in Port Augusta (540km). Radiology is sent electronically to Adelaide for interpretation. All routine bloods are taken by the Practice Nurse.


Coober Pedy Medical Practice provides 24 hour, 365 days a year cover to Coober Pedy Hospital.

All presentations to A&E are initially triaged by the RN on duty. The RN will notify the GP Locum immediately if the patient has been triaged as urgent. If the presentation is non urgent then the patient is advised of the time that the GP Locum is attending to outpatients.

The GP Locum will inform the nursing staff of their desired time to conduct an evening outpatient clinic.

On Saturday & Sunday the GP Locum is to inform the nursing staff the times throughout the day they will conduct an outpatient clinic. For example: 10am, 4pm & 7pm. All non-urgent presentations will be advised to return at the prearranged clinic times.


Coober Pedy has a population of approx. 3500 people comprised of over 45 different cultures with approx. 1/3 from Aboriginal descent. A significant proportion of the population are European WW2 migrants who arrived after the war.

There are a higher proportion of males within the community and the average aged is 45yrs. However, there is now an increasing ageing population within the community.


The Practice is available to service a local population of approximately 1695. In addition, the Practice may service surrounding outlying Stations, the township of Oodnadatta and a large transient and migratory population both from the southern districts of South Australia and the Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara (APY) lands. A large tourist population is also serviced where required.


As at 2011 ABS data, 51.6% of the population was identified as aged over 45 years with 19.5% representing the over 65 year age group.


Both the Coober Pedy Medical Practice and Hospital are bulk billing facilities


General Practice patient numbers can vary from 30 – 40 per day. This is affected by whether Dr Kami (the other practice GP) is away, as he does not arrange locum cover for himself.


Coober Pedy is known as ‘the opal capital of the world’ and is located on the Sturt Highway 846 km northwest of Adelaide and 680 km south of Alice Springs in the arid centre of South Australia.

The town has a population of 2500 and with surrounding districts the Medical Practice services approximately 1100 people.

The main lifeblood of the region comes through opal mining and services between 80,000 – 100,000 of tourists each year, both national and international.


Coober Pedy is famous for its under ground homes and the worlds largest supplier of white opals. It is a dry, dusty town in the middle of nowhere but has such a unique atmosphere that it has been a magnet for tourists for many decades.

Most of the residents live in underground dugouts and there are underground motel facilities’ for tourists as well as underground churches, clubs and restaurants.

Being half way between Adelaide and Alice Springs it is a popular stopover point, whether travelling by train (The Ghan), driving along Stuart Hwy or flying with regional carrier REX Air from Adelaide.

Coober Pedy is so hot that most strenuous activity is reserved for the evening hours. One popular attraction is night golf, thanks to glow in the dark golf balls. Halloween is also reported to be a great time of the year when Zombies play night golf and scare the living daylights out of the kids and locals.

The Oodnadatta Track is also a great outback adventure to experience and many of our locums who have worked in Coober Pedy have given it a try.

Coober Pedy is an incredibly interesting place with an eclectic mix of people, mesmerizing landscape and apparently very addictive to doctors wanting to practice medicine that makes a difference. It is challenging but extremely rewarding work for any doctor!


Locum GPs must have skills in ED with adequate course work such as ELS, EMST or equivalent.

Stabilisation of patients is generally all that is required as urgent cases, not able to be treated in Coober Pedy, are evacuated via RFDS to major hospitals in Port Augusta or Whyalla.

Note: All GPs will be required to be fully Credentialed with SA Health to obtain VMO rights at Coober Pedy hospital. Once credentialed the locum doctor is covered for 3 years and can work in any other South Australia area health service, with immediate VMO access to their local hospital.


Coober Pedy Hospital and Medical Practice relies on locum coverage throughout the year. Doctors normally rotate through the town every two weeks to avoid fatigue. We are currently looking to fill two week slots from 28th January 2018 and extending out to 1st July 2018 at this stage. If you feel you have the requisite skills and experience and would like to give it a try call Chris Babich on the number below and he will try and find dates that suit your other commitments.


Normal locum commitments are for two weeks, although some doctors may only be available for one week at a time. Three week commitments are sometimes undertaken but can be hard going if the after-hours emergency demands are high. Most doctors undertake regular locum stints in Coober Pedy throughout the year although there is always some attrition to our normal roster of doctors, due to other commitments or for personal reasons.

Locum engagements are booked in one week blocks (ie 7 days @ 24 hours/day) and the roster is coordinated to ensure a formal handover between outgoing and incoming doctors, for continuity of care.

Given the regular turnover there is considerable flexibility for you to pick your dates. We will do our best to accommodate you and fit you into the roster.


Two weeks rotating roster. Fly in, Fly out on Sundays.

The Contract fee is $14,000/wk. plus return airfares (from anywhere in Australia or New Zealand), Accommodation (an above ground house on the hospital grounds) and a car are also provided.

A typical fortnight’s locum in Coober Pedy generates a contract fee of $28,000 + GST to the locum doctor.


Incoming locum doctors will need to fly into Coober Pedy via Adelaide. The Adelaide connection is often possible on the same day, however, due to flight timetables locum doctors may need to stay overnight in Adelaide to connect with the morning Rex Airlines flights to Coober Pedy. Should this be the case, overnight accommodation in Adelaide will be reimbursed by SA Health.

All flight bookings are done by Monique, the practice manager, who is very capable and experienced in this area as well.


The Local Government Area of Coober Pedy within which the Practice is situated is classified as RA5 (very remote).


Contact Name:         Mr Chris Babich


Organisation:           Babich Medicos

Contact Address:    Sydney

Phone BH:                 02 9971 6889

Mobile:                       0416 132 366


Posted: 3rd November 2017

Position Reference:  17040

Setting The Pace
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