Sarah Hindson has been waiting five years to see an ear, nose and throat specialist in Bendigo.
The 50-year-old had emergency surgery in 2014 to remove her tonsils after a quinsy - or abscess - was found in her throat.
But two weeks after the surgery, Ms Hindson started experiencing new symptoms.
"It's right at the back of my throat and it's just a constant cough," Ms Hindson said. "Food with smaller textures like rice and coconut set it off and even a head wind can affect me.
"Sometimes I have such a severe coughing fit that I actually throw up. It's not that severe all the time but it can happen if I can't control the cough."
Ms Hindson had her urgent tonsillectomy through the private system after receiving financial support from her parents. But Ms Hindson said she could not afford to go private again.
"My husband is on a disability pension and I'm his carer at the moment," she said. "I have a teenager who is doing VCE this year which is very expensive and there's a lot going on."
After going to her local GP about her new symptoms, but attempts to fix the problems failed. Ms Hindson was put on the Bendigo Health public waiting list to see an ENT specialist in mid-2014.
She received a letter earlier this month which said Bendigo Health would "not be able to offer an ENT service in the short to medium term" and that the hospital "suggested [she] investigate alternative options for treatment".
"I'm happy to wait my turn but this is ridiculous," Ms Hindson said. "Bendigo is not a hick town in the middle of nowhere. How can there be no specialist here?
"I'm not just concerned for me. There would obviously be people who are worse than me on the waiting list."
Eaglehawk GP Dr Tali Barrett, who has been working as a doctor in the area since 1991, said Ms Hindson's problem was becoming increasingly common.
"In the early years of my career, we had two or three ENT specialists in Bendigo," Dr Barrett said. "There was still high demand but it wasn't that bad. But in the last couple of years there has been no one."
Dr Barrett said she had to send patients who are in urgent need of surgery but can't afford to go private to the Victorian Eye and Ear Hospital in Melbourne.
"It's really cumbersome for people," she said. "ENT services are what I describe as a bread and butter service. They should be available everywhere."
Dr Barrett said state and local governments are aware of the problem, as is Bendigo Health who are trying to recruit for the service.
"There are numbers of doctors being trained but no one wants to come here," Dr Barrett said.
A Bendigo Health spokesperson said in a written statement, "Bendigo Health is mindful that this is an important service and we are actively trying to recruit to it".
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