New mapping system to reduce rural doctor shortages

THE Federal Government has moved to make it easier for rural communities within Wide Bay to attract by doctors by introducing a new mapping system, Federal Member for Wide Bay Warren Truss says.

"This new mapping system uses updated statistical information to identify those regional communities where it is more difficult to access medicare-subsidised services," he said.

"The Government uses this information to identify Districts of Workforce Shortage, and provides incentives to encourage doctors to practice in these communities.

"This updated information will particularly benefit communities like Dundathu, Aldershot, Maryborough, Tiaro, Glenwood, Cooloola Cove, Tin Can Bay, Rainbow Beach, Kilkivan, and Goomeri in Wide Bay.

"These areas will now find it easier to attract new doctors, due to their listing as Districts of Workplace Shortage under the new system." 

Mr Truss said communities identified as having a shortage could recruit doctors who would not normally be able to bill Medicare for their services.

He said the incentive particularly targeted overseas-trained doctors, foreign graduates of Australian medical schools and Australian trained 'bonded' doctors.

"When an area is classified as a DWS it is more attractive for doctors, particularly overseas doctors, who would otherwise have a Medicare billing restriction applied to their practice for up to 10 years," Mr Truss said.

"Rural doctors have previously made it known to the Federal Government that they believed that the old DWS mapping was out of date and in need of reform.

"The Government has listened to these concerns and made these new changes accordingly.

"The new changes use the most current statistical data available, in order to identify doctor shortages and make it easier to plan for and recruit doctors in under-serviced areas.

"Previously, this identification process was using information dated from 2004.

"Assessments will also be done yearly, rather than every three months, which will afford communities in Wide Bay a greater degree of certainty, when considering the recruitment of health professionals for their areas.

"These changes have been developed in close consultation with rural doctors and will help to deliver on the government's commitment to improve health outcomes for rural, regional and remote communities through better access to medical services."

For more information on DWS classifications, visit www.doctorconnect.gov.au and searching under the Districts of Workplace Shortage layer.



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