New health workforce system to address lack of access to GPs

Monday, 1 July 2019

Federal Member for Hinkler Keith Pitt has welcomed a new health workforce classification system which assessed Bundaberg as not having adequate GP services.

“I know constituents have been frustrated with the difficulty in finding a new GP or accessing their current GP in Bundaberg. It’s an issue I’ve raised with the Deputy Prime Minister and previous regional health ministers, so I’m pleased to finally see some positive change in this space.

“The new health workforce classification system – which started on July 1 – is called Distribution Priority Areas (DPA) and Bundaberg has gained DPA status under this new system, as it was assessed as not having adequate GP services to meet the needs of their communities.

“Instead of using a blunt GP-population ratio, the DPA takes into account the demographics and socio-economic status of patients living in a GP catchment area.

“This change will allow some practices in Bundaberg to recruit restricted doctors such as overseas trained and Australian Bonded doctors, providing a greater pool of doctors to draw from to increase access to GP services.

“This will ensure that restricted GPs are better distributed, and communities with the greatest need will be recognised as a priority.

“DPA (like the previous DWS) will be used to determine where restricted medical practitioners, such as overseas trained and Australian Bonded doctors, may work and access the Medicare Benefits Schedule.

“This means that doctors will be directed into communities of greatest need across Australia.

“The new system, which replaces the existing District of Workforce Shortage (DWS) system for General Practitioners (GPs), follows recommendations by a Distribution Working Group, established by the Coalition Government and included the National Rural Health Commissioner as well as a number of peak rural health workforce bodies.

“Communities without DPA status may still apply to the Department of Health for special consideration to recruit an overseas trained doctor.”

Additional information is available here:

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