BY NIKI COMPARTI
Greater Bunbury and other parts of the South-West have been taken off the Australian Government’s District of Workforce Shortage list without warning in spite of a ‘doctor shortage’.
The withdrawal of the DWS status means that practices in these areas may no longer recruit overseas-trained doctors. Federal Member for Forrest Nola Marino said this was highly problematic because the area relied on imported doctors. “This will have a major impact given international doctors currently make up around 60 per cent of doctors in regional and rural areas in Western Australia,” she said.
“Overseas-trained doctors applying to work in the Greater Bunbury region will now have to make a special circumstances claim and provide information as to why they want to work in a region not on the DWS register.”
Ms Marino said she would meet Health Minister Nicola Roxon in Canberra to discuss the issue.
“Minister Roxon should be explaining to people in the South-West who have to wait a long time to get an appointment with a GP, if they can get in at all, why the Greater Bunbury region has been removed from the register,” she said.
“She should also explain this to our over-worked local doctors.”
South-West Medical Attraction Taskforce chairman Matt Granger said research by SMAT found the area needed 28 more general practitioners and several more specialist doctors.
“The Royal Australasian College of General Practitioners recommend a minimum of one GP per 1100 people. The SMAT report estimated the doctor patient ratio across the South-West is one to 1477,” he said.
Published in the Western Independent October 2010