An inquiry into the shortage of General Practitioners across Australia has been initiated in the Senate to assess the difference between access to GPs in the outer metro and regional areas in comparison to inner metro areas.
The inquiry will include the assessment of the acute shortage of GPs and Specialists across the electorate of Burt and Peth’s south eastern suburbs.
Federal Member for Burt Matt Keogh said that in August Labor led a push for the Senate Community Affairs References committee to inquire into the provision of GP and related primary health services after hearing increased feedback from the community about issues with connecting to said services.
“This is really great news for people across our south eastern suburbs,” Mr Keogh said.
“COVID-19 has highlighted the holes and gaps in our health care system, and none are more obvious than the shortage of GPs and other health services across Perth’s south-east.
“But this issue isn’t new, people living in Burt have been battling a critical lack of GPs for far too long.
“This inquiry will investigate why outer metropolitan areas are particularly affected by a lack of GPs and should come up with practical solutions to fix it.”
Data from the Productivity Commission shows that the number of full-service equivalent (FSE) General Practitioners per 100,000 people in Western Australia has gone up consistently from 2013-14 to 2017-18.
The 2013-14 data shows there were about 76.3 GPs per 100,000 people in WA and the 2017-18 data shows 93.2 FSE GP’s per 100,000 people.
However, Productivity Commission data also shows a general trend of less FSE GP’s according to remoteness, the further away from metro areas the fewer General Practitioners.
Regional and remote areas do have less population but the accessing of General Practitioners can be harder as those people have to travel further to reach those services.
According to Mr Keogh, modelling shows the nation will face a shortfall of nearly 9300 full time GPs by 2030, which is about a quarter of the workforce.
“In the inquiry, the committee will consider Government reforms and policies, including the geographic classification systems, GP training reforms and Medicare rebates as well as closely examine the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on doctor shortages,” he said.
“One of my greatest concerns is that until 2019 the cities of Armadale and Gosnells were included in the Distribution Priority Areas (DPA) for GPs.
“These areas are identified as where people don’t have enough access to doctors based on the needs of the community.
“The system considers gender and age demographics, the socio-economic status of patients living in the area, as well as areas where the average level of health services does not meet a ‘service benchmark’.
“Areas with this DPA classification can hire international medical graduates who are GPs to work in the area to fill those gaps and since the change in classification, we’ve seen a decrease in service to our community.
“Strangely, while the Armadale and Gosnells areas lost this classification, the suburb of Canning Vale retained this even though the suburb is closer to the Perth CBD and it’s position on the Socio-Economic Indexes for Areas scale.
“Canning Vale is rated 1,083.2 on the scale compared to just 843.4 in South Armadale and just 987 in the City of Gosnells, a lower score on the index means a higher level of disadvantage.
“I hope that the inquiry will help ensure our community gets the appropriate medical support we need.”
Submissions to the inquiry can be made online on the Australian Parliament House (APH) website.