Federal Member for Dobell, Emma McBride, has debunked claims that 33 new GPs were starting this month on the Central Coast.
“The acute shortage of GPs on the Coast is a long-running issue which all local MPs are aware of and that’s why I was frustrated to see claims recently that 33 new GP registrars were set to start work in the region this month,” she said.
“It’s just simply not true.
“I’ve spoken to local health professionals in the area, as a pharmacist myself, and these registrars already exist and work on a rotational basis.
“They are not new GPs for our community.
McBride announced last week there would be a Federal Senate Inquiry to examine the acute shortage of GPs in regional and rural areas, like the Central Coast.
Within days, Federal Member for Robertson, Lucy Wicks, announced the Central Coast would be home to 33 new GP registrars, evenly distributed across the Coast, and starting work from this month.
“We know there has been a real challenge in attracting and retaining GPs to the Central Coast for a number of years now, so we have been working progressively solve this problem,” she said.
Wicks said the Primary Health Network continued to implement a range of initiatives to help recruit and retain GPs including the Central Coast Sea Change program which provided GP relocation and retention incentives and funding for GPs to undertake further training in skin cancer detection and treatment.
McBride said the shortage of GPs was even worse on the northern end of the Coast because it was not classified by the government as a Distribution Priority Area.
“Changing the classification would allow local practices to recruit and retain more GPs from a wider pool of doctors and help people in my community get access to health care more quickly,” she said in Federal Parliament on August 12.
McBride said people were waiting weeks for appointments and local practices were being forced to close their books because they didn’t have enough GPs to take on new patients.
“I was speaking to a senior GP yesterday who was just exasperated,” she told Parliament.
“Two GPs from his practice are moving interstate and he can’t replace them, so the several thousand patients that they see currently no longer have a GP.
“They can’t absorb them within that practice and they have had to let them know that they can’t provide them with ongoing care.
“This not only is just not good enough, its risky, and unsafe for our local people,” McBride said.
The Federal Senate Inquiry will examine GP shortages in regional and rural areas like the Central Coast, as well as reforms to the Distribution Priority Area classification system and GP training.