Doc­tor short­age con­firmed

Whitsunday Times - - LOCAL NEWS -

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.”

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