Grafton put back onto doctor shortage list
GRAFTON medical practices will be able to sidestep much of the red tape associated with hiring overseas doctors now the region has been reinstated as an area of doctor shortages.
A year ago Grafton lost its District of Workforce Shortage (DWS) status, which had allowed practices looking to hire new staff access to a pool of doctors not available to metropolitan practices.
The move attracted local criticism, with one Grafton practice manager claiming it would lead to doctor shortages in the region.
At the time the Federal Minister for Rural Health, Senator Fiona Nash, claimed the figures for DWS regions needed updating and Grafton was one of the regions which no longer fitted the bill.
However, the Minister has reinstated Grafton plus outlying areas Junction Hill and Waterview Heights based on the population to GP ratio.
In all 244 areas around the country have been included on the list of regions with not enough doctors per head of population.
Other areas, like Maclean and Iluka have been included on a list of 220 rural and remote areas automatically assumed to have a shortage of GPs.
"While capital cities have an oversupply of GPs, most country areas do not have enough," Sen Nash said.
"As of today, medical practices in 220 rural and remote communities will be automatically guaranteed access to an extra pool of doctors which capital city practices can't hire.
"These areas outside capital cities will be automatically classed as having as having a shortage of General Practice Doctors, making them a District of Workforce Shortage (DWS) and giving them access to the extra doctors.
"These DWS areas will no longer need to waste time filling out paperwork to prove they have a shortage of GPs. They will no longer have to wait months until they can prove a doctor has left the area before recruiting another.
"Medical practices in these areas will be able to hire GPs who were trained overseas and who have passed an Australian equivalent exam. Typically, for their first 10 years of practice in Australia, overseas trained doctors are unable to access Medicare services unless they work where there is a shortage of doctors - which effectively means country areas."