09 December 2021

I am pleased that medical practices in the Nelson Bay area will find it easier to recruit doctors next year, with changes to priority area classifications.

I have lobbied long and hard for this change, and I am pleased that practices will finally have access to a wider pool of doctors to increase their workforce.

This will also come as a relief to patients, many of whom struggle to find a GP.

It is 12 months since I met with the previous Minister for Regional Health, Mark Coulton, and medical practices on the Tomaree Peninsula of Port Stephens about the difficulties they were facing recruiting doctors.

I have also met with the current Minister for Regional Health, David Gillespie, and made a submission to a Senate Inquiry into GP shortages.

Surgeries in Nelson Bay have been advised that changes will come into effect from 1 January 2022 for practices in areas deemed MM 3 and MM 4 that will give them automatic Distribution Priority Area (DPA) classification.

This means it will be easier for them to recruit doctors who have trained overseas or under Australia-trained bonded doctors with return of service obligations.

This change has been a long time coming and this is a great start to relieving the pressure placed on practices who reach breaking point during the tourist season when they are inundated by visitors who need to see a doctor. 

Doctors and staff were leaving practices because of burn-out and I am pleased to finally see the Morrison Government has recognised this problem and acted.

The changes do not offer relief for doctors in other areas such as Kurri Kurri and Rutherford, and I will continue to advocate for those practices and their patients.