Cooroy and Noosa hinterland to have access to more doctors for longer

Cooroy and the Noosa hinterland, which were granted access to the Distribution Priority Area (DPA) classification to attract more GPs into the community, will now have access to the initiative for another year under a re-elected Coalition Government.

Federal Member for Wide Bay and Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives Llew O’Brien  announced today the Coalition Government understood it took time to recruit a GP from overseas and in recognition of that, the local DPA status will be extended.

“This announcement means that local practices in Cooroy and the Noosa hinterland have another year to employ more GPs into our local communities to improve access to medical care for local patients,” Mr O’Brien said.

“It provides local medical clinics and practices with the stability and certainty that they need to recruit a doctor who is currently working overseas, they can ask that doctor to relocate to the Noosa hinterland and know that they will still have access to the DPA classification so they can employ them.

“The Coalition Government understands the needs of patients in regional communities like Cooroy. Labor will give access to DPA to large cities that do not need it, meaning that doctors in our area would be competing with those cities from which to recruit doctors.

“We’re making it easier for patients to see a doctor face-to-face, and in addition to this, we have already made telehealth permanent and universal so that people can use video calling and phone services to access care, and we’ve delivered 100 million new telehealth services to more than 17 million people since its introduction in March 2020.”

Regional Health Minister and former regional doctor, Dr David Gillespie said this 12-month extension was in recognition of the challenges faced with recruiting doctors to peri-urban and regional centres.

“The extension will help regional areas to respond to unforeseen workforce and population changes,” Dr Gillespie said.

Under the DPA classification, general practices in places with a DPA classification can employ international medical graduates and Australian-trained bonded doctors, who are required to work in priority areas to access the Medicare Benefits Schedule.

“This is another incentive to encourage more bonded students – those who accepted a government funded university place in exchange to work regionally – to complete their return of service in our more regional or growth-corridor communities,” Dr Gillespie said.

“The Coalition is getting it done for our communities. Our Stronger Rural Health Strategy, created in 2018, has already collectively delivered 5,000 new GPs, nurses and allied health professionals to regional Australia.”

Access to the Distribution Priority Area classification is assessed annually by the Federal Department of Health. As the Noosa hinterland was granted DPA classification through an exceptional circumstances review, it will be exempt from the annual review for an additional 12 months from 1 July this year.

Dr Gillespie said the 12-month extension will not prevent other catchments in Wide Bay from getting a DPA classification through the annual review process.

“I encourage local practices in Wide Bay to continue to work with the local Rural Workforce Agency and their local PHN to discuss their specific situation,” Dr Gillespie said.

To determine locations in your area that have access to the DPA classification, visit the Health website, and check the Distribution Priority Area checkbox for GPs.

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