GP crisis recognised

An hour before it closed on September 26, the Howard medical clinic was still packed with patients.
An hour before it closed on September 26, the Howard medical clinic was still packed with patients. Robyne Cuerel

MARYBOROUGH'S shortage of GPs has reached crisis proportions with people in large areas of its electorate now struggling with less doctor access than the national average.

The problem has deteriorated to such extremes the heritage city and some of its outlying towns are now declared district of workforce shortages (DWS).

The new high-need classification opens the gateway for overseas-trained doctors (OTDs) to relocate to the Fraser Coast to assist locations in dire need of GP service.

Such towns as Tiaro and Howard, which have no local doctor access but have medical clinic facilities, could benefit.

Member for Maryborough Anne Maddern welcomed the Department of Health announcement, admitting she believed it was important the heritage city's GP crisis was finally being recog- nised.

"It will (go a long way to fixing the doctor shortage), if the local GPs take up the opportunity and look for overseas-trained doctors to fill positions here," Ms Maddern said.

"I know of one clinic that is already and I know of another that will.

"But it still puts pressure on local GPs to actually go through that process and I don't imagine it's the easiest process to get through but it gives us a capacity that we haven't had."

Ms Maddern said her understanding of DWS was that it allowed overseas-trained doctors to practice under the guidance of an Australian-trained doctor, therefore it was not simply a matter of bringing a doctor to a vacant clinic.

A Department of Health and Ageing spokeswoman confirmed parts of Maryborough had less access to general practice services when compared to the national average - she said Hervey Bay was not DWS.

The Chronicle last week compiled data showing the Maryborough electorate, which includes towns such as Bauple and Burrum Heads, had one GP for every 1474 people living inside its borders.

In contrast, Hervey Bay had one GP for every 776 people in its electorate.

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