Doctor status a band-aid fix

May 30, 2024 BY

Not enough: Bacchus Marsh Medical Centre practice manager, Katie Bielecki, said she doesn't think the area's new Distribution Priority Area status will fix the decline in GP accessibility. Photo: SUPPLIED

DESPITE the promise of more doctors under a new Federal Government designation, a local medical centre says more needs to be done.

Bacchus Marsh has been designated a Distribution Priority Area.

The change means practices can recruit overseas-trained doctors, and in theory, open up more appointment times in the rapidly growing town.

However, Bacchus Marsh Medical Centre practice manager, Katie Bielecki, says there are bigger issues at play that aren’t being addressed.

“Bacchus Marsh being granted DPA status is only a small portion of the overall problem,” she said.

“The DPA status makes it easier for us to employ overseas-trained doctors, but many of those need a high level of supervision that is not currently possible with the workload our current GPs are facing.

“Since the pandemic, we have been overwhelmed with the number of patients needing appointments, many for issues they would have overlooked prior to COVID-19.

“We’re usually booked out for days in advance and are only able to open a limited number of appointments each morning for more urgent issues.

“Like many of the clinics in our area, we have had to close our books to new patients residing outside of Moorabool Shire so that we can focus on providing care to our existing cohort.”

Ms Bielecki said she believes a true fix for the decrease in GP availability would need to come directly from the Federal Government.

“Being granted DPA status won’t necessarily alleviate this problem unless clinics like ours can get more support from our PHN (Primary Health Network) and the Department of Health,” she said.

“There needs to be more support from the PHN for GPs to supervise overseas-trained doctors, whether through man hours, guidance or funding, and the Department of Health needs to make it financially feasible for clinics to be able to set aside the time needed to supervise and train overseas doctors.”