New system addresses Bundaberg GP shortage

Bundaberg GP shortage
A new classification system will enable international medical graduates to work in Bundaberg to obtain a Medicare provider number.

Seeing a GP in Bundaberg should get easier in future after a change in the system that identifies areas of greatest need to recruit more doctors.

The Federal Government has added Bundaberg as a priority area to help recruit extra general practitioners.

From 1 July 2019, a new health workforce Distribution Priority Area (DPA) classification system replaced the previous assessment areas for GPs and bonded doctors.

The Government says the system will better enable the placement of medical practitioners in communities of greatest need and help address the Bundaberg GP shortage.

Instead of using a GP-to-population ratio, the new DPA system takes into account population data and the socio-economic status of patients living in a GP catchment area.

International medical graduates who specialise in general practice are required to work in a DPA in order to obtain a Medicare provider number.

Federal Member for Hinkler, Keith Pitt, welcomed the 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,” Mr Pitt said.

“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.”

Mr Pitt said the change would enable some medical practices in Bundaberg to recruit 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,” he said.

The Bundaberg GP shortage has been an issue for several years.