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Community & Business

25 August, 2022

KAP rails against GP changes

DOCTOR shortages in regional and remote GPs may be a thing of the past if a decent federally funded incentive program is offered that lures them to country areas, says Member for Kennedy Bob Katter.


Bob standing beside Dr Rod Catton from Innisfail, former Health Minister, Greg Hunt, and Dr Grant Manypeney from Mareeba and Dr Lisa Fraser from Gordonvale.
Bob standing beside Dr Rod Catton from Innisfail, former Health Minister, Greg Hunt, and Dr Grant Manypeney from Mareeba and Dr Lisa Fraser from Gordonvale.

Mr Katter said the fight to maintain an adequate health workforce in North Queensland had been a constant battle and he feared that the Federal Government’s recent expansion of the distribution priority area (DPA) would lead to an immediate exodus of doctors out of rural and remote areas. 

The changes enforced by the new government sees all GP catchments in Modified Monash Model 2 (MM 2) areas automatically gain DPA status with immediate effect. 

It means places like Sunshine Coast can compete for medical staff from the same pool that very remote parts of the country like Cloncurry or Mareeba tap into. 

These inclusions in priority status also enables them to recruit from an expanded pool of doctors, including Overseas Trained Doctors (OTD). 

Mr Katter intends to make submissions to the Minster for Health Mark Butler over the coming weeks in anticipation of a meeting at the September sitting. Member for Hill Shane Knuth used State Parliament last week to call for immediate action on attracting more GPs to rural and remote areas. 

“I have been warning the State Government for a long time that we were heading for a health crisis in regional and remote areas of Queensland. There is no doubt access to GPs is rapidly declining and we need immediate action,” he said.

“GP practices are closing at an alarming rate – people are being turned away from hospital emergency departments, there is a lack of nurses, extended waitlists for vital surgery and a lack of lifesaving medical equipment such as dialysis chairs.” 

Mr Knuth said to make matters worse the Rural Doctors Association has expressed deep concern about the proposed changes to the DPA.

Meanwhile, Mareeba residents attended the recent Local Area Needs Assessment feedback session hosted by the Cairns Hinterland Hospital and Health Service, providing feedback on the needs the health group identified. 

Those in attendance were pleased with the needs and spoke further on issues such as dialysis, transport, mental health and better information surrounding preexisting health services.

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