More GPs for Gympie and Maryborough clinics to recruit

GP practices in Gympie and Maryborough will have more options for hiring and a larger pool of doctors to recruit from, following changes to the Distribution Priority Area (DPA) classification system, Federal Member for Wide Bay and Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives Llew O’Brien announced today.

Mr O’Brien said this change would take place on January 1, 2022, and would soon provide a real difference to patients in Gympie and Maryborough by improving access to medical professionals.

“This classification means that our local practices can immediately begin reaching out to overseas doctors who want to move to our region and practice here, helping ease the pressure on GPs and ultimately making it easier to get an appointment when one is needed,” Mr O’Brien said.

“The Liberals and Nationals Government is serious about supporting the health needs of local families, and also supporting doctors who genuinely commit to practice in regional, rural and remote towns, which offers continuity of care, instead of having an over-reliance of locums.”

The Distribution Priority Area (DPA) classification identifies locations in Australia with a shortage of doctors. Currently, only rural and remote (MMM 5-7) communities receive automatic DPA status with other MMM locations assessed annually to see whether the health services for the population meet a service benchmark.

This change gives automatic access to the DPA classification for regional and larger rural towns (MMM 3-4) to make it easier for areas to recruit more doctors.

Students who accepted a Commonwealth Supported Place in an Australian medical course in return for a commitment to work in a regional, rural and remote area at the end of their studies must also work in a DPA.

Federal Regional Health Minister Dr David Gillespie said the DPA expansion would mean more regional and rural communities would have access to a GP in the short term.

“More rural and regional areas will be able to utilise the DPA system when recruiting doctors for their region, whether they be those who are wanting to move here from overseas or those young doctors who accepted a place in return for working in a regional area,” Dr Gillespie said.

“This change will help ensure rural and regional areas have a choice of more doctors to work in their local communities, leading to increased access to GP and primary care services for many thousands of Australians in regional and rural communities.”

The Morrison Joyce Government will also invest in a significant incentive for eligible doctors and nurse practitioners to practice in rural, remote or very remote areas of Australia, by eliminating all or part of their Higher Education Loan Programme (HELP) debt subject to meeting eligibility criteria.

Minister for Health and Aged Care Greg Hunt said our Government is acutely aware of the maldistribution of the health workforce around the country and is implementing a range of policies to get more GPs, nurses and allied health professionals to areas where they are needed.

“This is just another measure that our government is using to attract more GPs to regional areas,” Minister Hunt said.

“Incentivising doctors and nurse practitioners to live and work outside of metropolitan areas will help improve access to quality health care for regional, rural and remote communities.”

“The Morrison Joyce Government is focused on delivering better outcomes, reducing access barriers and creating a flexible system that works for all Australians, regardless of where they live. Today’s announcement continues to build on this Government Stronger Rural Health Strategy and our longstanding efforts to grow our own rural GP and medical workforce.”