Doctor shortage confirmed
THE Whitsundays has been declared a District of Workforce Shortage by the Department of Health, opening the door for foreign trained doctors to ease the pressure on overworked locals.
Federal Member for Dawson, George Christensen, said it was important for foreign-trained doctors to make applications while the window of opportunity was open.
“I have campaigned hard with local doctors for an exemption to the Act that bars foreign-trained doctors from gaining a Medicare Provider Number, so it would be a shame to let this opportunity slip,” he said.
“In the long-term I am pushing to change the formulas and data used to determine whether or not a region is a District of Workforce Shortage.”
Mr Christensen spoke on the matter in parliament last week, calling for a change of formula or at least to give the Health Minister power to intervene when the system failed.
“The data used by the department to determine a District of Workforce Shortage includes Medicare billing data and Australian Bureau of Statistics information drawn from the 2011 Census. But Medicare billing figures is not an accurate reflection of the number of GPs we have available in the Whitsundays,” he said.
“And the population figures for the Whitsundays do not take into account the huge fluctuations we have because of the tourism industry.”
Dr El Baky, from the 121 Medical Centre, has more than 30,000 patients on the books for a practice that is run by himself and two part-time doctors. That figure excludes patients who have not presented in the past two years.
“With 600,000 visitors coming to the region every year, even if only 10 per cent of them needed to see a doctor while on holidays, it means an extra 60,000 patients for local doctors to serve,” Mr Christensen said.
“We recently lost one doctor to Mackay because his wife was a foreign-trained doctor not allowed to work in Airlie Beach but allowed to work in Mackay. Hopefully, they will both return to the Whitsundays full-time.”