Pediatrician relocates to Busselton to care for children with behavioural issues

Pediatrician Dr Anand Deshmukh is relocating to Busselton to care for children who have behavioural issues and mothers who have trouble breastfeeding.
Pediatrician Dr Anand Deshmukh is relocating to Busselton to care for children who have behavioural issues and mothers who have trouble breastfeeding.

Experienced pediatrician Dr Anand Deshmukh has relocated to Busselton to provide health care services to children and their families.

Dr Deshmukh specialises in behavioural health conditions and will be opening Hope Clinic Busselton in April to help children who have behaviour issues.

"My patients are more the kids who are failing in school because they cannot retain information because they cannot focus," he said.

"Nobody can see them, they are just sort of invisible and that is really sad because they are feeling really well, but feel they are useless and left out.

"The main problem nobody can see is the behaviour in children with behavioural issues, like the autism spectrum disorder.

"Then we have patients with attention deficit disorder and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, which are different.

"That is why I decided to go to The Pilbara because while there are many pediatricians no one wants to go to the country."

Dr Deshmukh had been living in the northwest before deciding to relocate to Busselton with his wife to fill a gap in children's health care.

In December, the Mail reported that South West families were waiting nine months to see a pediatrician after Vasse doctor Nathan Smalley sadly passed away.

Since then, families have been unable to obtain prescriptions from general practitioners to fill their children's medication needs.

Dr Deshmukh said after Dr Smalley passed away there was nobody to help these children and they had to wait months before they could see a pediatrician.

He had patients who were FIFO families that had lived in Busselton, relocate to Karratha so they could see him and get medication.

"That is why we decided to come here and that is when I realised how bad the problem was," he said.

"My clinic will be called Hope Pediatric Clinic Busselton after Nathan, because I was very moved by what happened."

Dr Deshmukh said he liked to look at problems that were not tackled by other people because they were labour and time intensive.

"People want a quick fix and do not want to take on behavioural children on their books so waiting times become category three, unlike children with asthma or heart conditions," he said.

"I just wanted to tap into the behaviour side of it because they do not have anywhere to go.

"People will jump on children with chest pain so they get seen quickly, that is why not many children have heart attacks.

"But children with behavioural issues who have been taken out of school are not a priority for people, but they are a priority for me because ultimately it is the community which suffers.

Children with behavioural issues who have been taken out of school are not a priority for people, but they are a priority for me.

Dr Anand Deshmukh

"Unfortunately, Dr Smalley had a lot of patients who were like that.

"If you cannot afford to go to the big cities to get a diagnosis you go to a GP and they do whatever they can then wait for a pediatrician to see the child.

"If you have behavioural problems or learning difficulties and you have to wait eight months to see a pediatrician, and the child is 16 to 24 months old, that is half of their life.

"It is unfair."

When Dr Deshmukh first went to Karratha 12 years ago there was no children's health services available for children with behavioural issues.

"I used to go from Port Hedland to Karratha two days a month that was it, now the practice is so busy, I used to see by myself 2,000 kids a year and still we could not keep up," he said.

"We never let time go more than three months between appointments, we wanted to make sure no matter how difficult it was that there was a change in behaviour."

Dr Deshmukh said it would be difficult for parents who had to wait until February next year before they could see a pediatrician.

"As a mother you cannot not get anywhere when a school keeps sending your child home, and the kid is being schooled at home because their behaviour is a challenge," he said.

"You cannot work, you cannot earn a living and if you are a single mother worse. There is so much of that.

"Some parents cannot apply for Centrelink, some parents cannot get to their job because their child is sent home everyday.

"If the child is at home because they are disturbed or has been suspended from school for seven days, the parent loses seven days of work.

"It is a big challenge and you can see that families stumble around, or marriages breakdown, I think it is easier to intervene and give them some sort of outlet to talk.

"Psychologists are the same but sometimes there is a six month waiting time."

Another area Dr Deshmukh specialises in is fetal alcohol spectrum disorder.

"Most people with FASD end up in jail because they are impulsive," he said.

"People just point fingers at the mother, I hate that, I have done quite a few speeches on FASD and not to blame the mother.

"If she drinks through pregnancy it does not mean that she does not love her child.

"There is always a bigger picture, she might be being beaten up by her partner every day, there might be a million things going on in her life and the only way out for her is to drink.

"The problem is that the first seven to ten days of conception is when you can do the worst damage, and how many of us know they're pregnant then?

"People go on holidays and honeymoons, drink, have fun and have sex then fall pregnant. It just happens, this is life."

Appointments with Dr Deshmukh will need to be made by a GP referral.

This story New hope for children first appeared on Busselton-Dunsborough Mail.