Federal Member for Grey Rowan Ramsey said he is pleased Port Augusta will be able to cast their net wider in the search for more GPs following the Distribution Priority Area (DPA) reclassification of the city which now identifies it as an area with a doctor shortage.
“I have been in discussion with doctors and health professionals in Port Augusta for some time now trying to resolve the critical shortage of general practitioners the city has experienced,” he said.
“It is of great concern to me that we have a huge doctor maldistribution problem in Australia with an over-abundance in the city and chronic shortages in regional areas. It dismays me our Australian trained doctors with a few exceptions refuse the opportunity to come and live and work among us but, at least this classification change will increase the ability for GP practices in Port Augusta to recruit overseas trained doctors to ensure our health system does not collapse.
“There have been a number of strong advocates for this change, but I particularly thank them all for their support in helping to achieve change.
“The former non-DPA classification precluded the recruitment of international medical graduates to practice in Port Augusta by barring their access to Medicare subsidies. Now, the graduates will be granted access on the basis they work in the classified area.”
Mr Ramsey said he is acutely aware of the difficulties many communities are facing attracting doctors and has been in discussions with the University of Adelaide in their efforts to establish a Rural Generalist pathway, essentially providing specialist training across a range of areas to equip GPs to deal with the incredible variation of demand that walks through their door in regional and remote areas.
“There are many rural and regional communities across Grey without enough doctors but luring a city-educated medical workforce to remote or regional areas is not easy,” he said.
“The Government has been working hard to resolve the imbalance constituting about 400 patients for every doctor in metro areas compared to up to 3,000 in rural and remote areas.
“In 2015 the GP Rural Incentives Program (GPRIP) rolled out the latest scheme to try to tempt doctors into small towns across Australia. They can now access up to an extra $60,000 a year to supplement their income in rural practice.
“However despite these and a raft of other measures there are still not enough doctors willing to work in country areas.
“In light of the ongoing difficulties, I continue to promote the concept of ‘Post Code Specific Medicare Provider Licences’ but nonetheless remain very thankful for government commitments in the area, including the classification of Port Augusta as DPA.”
Media Contact: Leonie Lloyd-Smith 08 86331744 July 3, 2020