The Murrumbidgee Local Health District (MLHD) is "exploring all options" about the future availability of a doctor's services at Cootamundra Hospital - including not having access to local doctors during weekdays.
MLHD issued a statement last Friday saying it was currently trying to get a locum doctor to work in the Cootamundra Hospital's emergency department, following the withdrawal of weekday services by GPs at the neighbouring Cootamundra Medical Centre.
MLHD's Cootamundra cluster manager Kerry Lindeman said the doctor would work in the emergency department "while we recruit a nursing practitioner who is additional (sic) qualified to start medications and other higher-level emergency treatments".
However after that nurse is recruited, MLHD would not guarantee that a doctor would continue to be present in the hospital on weekdays.
It hinted the hospital may use remote consultation with a doctor elsewhere, and send patients to another hospital if necessary after triage.
Ms Lindeman emphasised that visiting medical officer services were still available at night and on weekends.
"We urge residents to continue to present to the hospital for urgent assessment and treatment."
In the longer term, Ms Lindeman said the district was partnering with the University of NSW to develop a "rural training pathway" whereby it would employee GP trainees as NSW Health employees for four years while they worked in both rural hospitals and local general practices.
Cootamundra MP Steph Cooke said the shortage of GPs was an issue affecting the whole of NSW.
"It's an issue where decisions made at the federal level are affecting us on the ground, and there is no quick fix," she said.
"Last month Cootamundra was allocated reduced numbers of GP registrars through GP Synergy.
"In addition, the structure of training programs and the Medicare benefits scheme freeze disproportionately disadvantages rural areas.
"I am advised MLHD is looking at all options to recruit doctors to Cootamundra Hospital and I am keen to work with the council to show off what a wonderful town Cootamundra is.
"We have so much to offer with our rural lifestyle, our amenities, schools and shopping, and we need to shout this from the rooftops so that prospective GPs can hear us," Ms Cooke said.