The University of Otago's first professor of general practice
and authority on the clinical management of what was called
Tapanui flu, Prof Campbell Murdoch is returning from
Australia to become Tapanui's GP next month.
The West Otago town has been surviving with locum cover for
much of the year.
Its resident doctor, Dr Daphne Climie, resigned suddenly at
the end of April, just before she was expected to return from
leave granted in January.
West Otago Health manager Michele Stainburn said the service
had managed to get a locum for a couple of days a week, which
was not ideal for the community.
She praised the work of the service's nursing team.
Finding locums in winter in the south had been particularly
hard this year, she said.
West Otago Health Board chairman Brian Brenssell said he was
excited about the appointment, saying Prof Murdoch shared the
board's vision for its proposed $6 million rural integrated
family health centre and aged care facility.
Prof Murdoch is expected to begin work next month, but would
also carry out locum work in the meantime when he was able
to, Mr Brenssell said.
Prof Murdoch was professor of general practice in the Dunedin
School of Medicine from 1983 to 1992 and a GP in Winton
between 1999 and 2002.
In recent years, he has been head of the school of primary,
aboriginal and rural health care at the University of Western
The term Tapanui flu was coined in the 1980s after Tapanui GP
Dr Peter Snow and public health researchers Marion Poore and
Charlotte Paul published the results of their research into
an apparent outbreak of a chronic fatigue illness in West
The late Dr Snow credited Prof Murdoch with recognising the
need for research into the phenomenon which is chronic
In 2002, Prof Murdoch co-authored a book with Harriet
Denz-Penhey on the subject, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, a
Mr Brenssell said the service, which covers 2000 patients,
continued to provide a 24-hour, seven-day-a-week service
although this was becoming more difficult.
The sudden departure of Dr Climie had put a tremendous strain
on "our resources, staff and management".
Mrs Stainburn said the service hoped to develop new
partnerships and other ways of working so that if someone
left the effects were not so drastic.
It is not known when work will start on the new complex,
which will require $1.5 million of community fundraising.