GP shortage prompts new growth strategy

Morgan Liotta

6/03/2019 1:55:14 PM

Ballarat Group Practice is committed to the highest standard of care to their patients, and hopes to ease an increasing GP shortage in the area.

Ballarat Group Practice hopes to recruit more GPs to house a growing shortage in the area.
Ballarat Group Practice hopes to recruit more GPs to house a growing shortage in the area.

A shortage of GPs in Ballarat is impacting the health outcomes of the local community, with increasing pressure on the Ballarat Base Hospital, which is struggling to keep up with the high amount of emergency department presentations that could otherwise be GP visits.
Ballarat Group Practice hopes to, in some way, alleviate this growing GP shortage with its recently opened state-of-the-art medical facility that houses a medical practice and physiotherapy group on the first floor, and a pathology centre and pharmacy on the ground floor.
‘If we could accommodate a number of new doctors, we would,’ Dr Kevin Carter, a GP at Ballarat Group Practice told newsGP.

‘Part of the reason we built the new building was to have the increased space with the plan to gradually increase the number of doctors at the practice over the next five years, and we still hope to do that.’
Currently, Ballarat Group Practice has around 100 staff across three clinics situated in Ballarat, including 35 GPs, a practice manager, finance department, as well as a large number of nursing and secretarial staff.
The foundation of the practice’s philosophy is to provide the highest quality care by ensuring excellence in all aspects of the practice.
‘We’re interested in excellence of medical care. We’re a family practice with patients from all generations and generally we like to think that patients can choose the doctor they’d like to see on a long-term basis,’ Dr Carter said.
Ballarat Group Practice caters for a variety of patient circumstances and provides mixed billing, depending on Health Care Card status. The practice also provides after-hours care.
The growing shortage of GPs in the area has led Dr Carter to predict some challenges in providing adequate service to patients, especially considering Ballarat is currently not deemed a District of Workforce Shortage (DWS) area.
‘I think there will be increasing difficulty. Ballarat is growing fairly rapidly – there’s a lot of people moving from Melbourne who need to find a GP,’ Dr Carter said.
‘We [also] see a lot of patients who have previously attended the walk-in walk-out bulk-billed clinics and they want to have a regular GP.
‘So there’s a significant need for more doctors.’
The current shortage of GPs in Ballarat is due to recruitment difficulties and the fact that the non-classification of a DWS limits the number of GPs who can be recruited and therefore the number of new patients who can receive care, according to Dr Carter.
‘The Government has rules on whether you can recruit doctors who can only work in areas of workforce shortage,’ he said.
‘At the moment, we don’t meet that criteria.’
Ballarat Group Practice has been trying to recruit new doctors to open their doors for more patients, with limited success.
‘Most practices in town are actually not taking new patients,’ Dr Carter said.
‘[However], there are some doctors in our clinic that are taking a limited number of new patients and it looks as though we have actually recruited a new doctor for next month, so that should help things significantly.’

Ballarat Group Practice District of workforce shortage GP recruitment

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Gaston Boulanger   7/03/2019 7:41:34 AM

The solution lies in finding measurements to actively re-distribute GPs. There are too many in the urban areas and not enough in the rest of the land. And secondly the huge income gap between specialists and GPs >3:1 causes young doctors not to become gp's. This gap needs closing. Unfortunately most gp's work and live in the cities and policies are based on statistics. The governement has not the intelligence to interpret the data correctly and they don't have the guts to fix these taboos.

Boskos   7/03/2019 1:09:11 PM

The Australia Government in one way does not want non-Fellow Dr to work as GP, in other way to ask more and more temporary Drs without Fellowship to work as GP .

Amy   8/03/2019 6:11:42 AM

Is the pay gap really a 3:1 ratio specialists to GPs? As a meducal student these details are not really readily available however I have heard fellow students mention remuneration will be a significant factor in determining training choices.