GP clinics in the Gilmore catchment can now recruit overseas trained doctors and bonded medical practitioners, after successful campaigning to have its Distribution Priority Area (DPA) status reviewed.
Vincentia, Basin View and Worrigee in the Gilmore electorate are the latest to be classified as DPA following an application of an “exceptional circumstances” review.
The successful application means local medical practices now have more opportunity to address local GP doctor shortages enabling local GP practices a larger pool of doctors to recruit from, which should make it easier for clinics to secure more doctors. Todays "announcement" by way of Senator Molan came as a surprise to the Federal Member for Gilmore, Fiona Philips who said "In 2019 the Morrison Government cut access to the Distribution Priority Area for overseas trained doctors to work in our area. I have been campaigning long and hard with the community and local GPs for this to be changed. The change was announced December 13th 2021. As I said then, and I say now, this is a win for the community. It is ridiculous to see Sen. Molan and the Liberal Candidate for Gilmore come out TWO months later and announce this! Clearly they are way behind the times and simply have no idea....."
Above: The Federal Member for Gilmore raised the fact that health was at a crisis point in her Parliamentary speech of August 12th 2021. The independent Distribution Working Group (DWG) aims to meet 4 times a year however, th COVID-19 pandemic disrupted this schedule. From November 2021, the DWG decided it would meet fortnightly until it has worked through the large number of new DPA exceptional circumstances review applications awaiting review. It is hoped that the DWG will review all currently held applications by the end of February 2022 that may see further announcements for the South East. The DPA classification identifies regions where people find it harder to see a doctor, based on the needs of the community.
The classification is updated each year, several medical practices in this area indicated they had been hit by sudden and unexpected changes and unmet demand during the pandemic period and had found it especially difficult to recruit doctors to the area.
The DPA classification however, does not guarantee a doctor, but it allows medical practices in DPA catchments to recruit doctors subject to location restrictions, such as those who trained overseas.
Students who have 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.
The review process was established to ensure that an area’s DPA status was based on contemporaneous information, supported vulnerable patient cohorts and was responsive to significant workforce and population changes.
Exceptional circumstances review applications are considered by an independent working group, which then make recommendations. As well as changes to the health workforce or services, the review considers demographics, and more up to date data which was not available at the time of the previous DPA update. The DPA indicator has been in place for three years, assisting to prioritise access to doctors for underserviced rural areas.