Local GP practices in towns such as Mount Gambier, Naracoorte, Nuriootpa, Williamstown, Kapunda, Murray Bridge and Tanunda will have more options and a larger pool of doctors to recruit from, following changes announced by the Morrison Government.

Member for Barker Tony Pasin said this change would provide a real difference to patients in the Limestone Coast, the Barossa and Murray Bridge.

“Short term, this mean that our local practices can begin reaching out to overseas doctors who want to move to our region and practice here in Barker,” Mr Pasin said.

“This change begins from 1 January 2022, and I know that local practices will be working hard to take full advantage of this significant change.” Mr Pasin said.

The Distribution Priority Area (DPA) classification identifies locations in Australia with a shortage of doctors. Currently, only rural and remote (MMM 5-7) communities receive automatic DPA status with other MMM locations assessed annually to see whether the health services for the population meet a service benchmark.

This change gives automatic access to the DPA classification for regional and larger rural towns (MMM 3-4) to make it easier for areas to recruit more doctors.

Students who accepted a Commonwealth Supported Place in an Australian medical course in return for a commitment to work in a regional, rural and remote area at the end of their studies must also work in a DPA.

The Morrison Government will also invest in a significant incentive for eligible doctors and nurse practitioners to practice in rural, remote or very remote areas of Australia, by eliminating all or part of their Higher Education Loan Programme (HELP) debt subject to meeting eligibility criteria.

Mr Pasin said our Government is acutely aware of the maldistribution of health workforce around the country and is implementing a range of policies to get more GPs, nurses and allied health professionals to areas where they are needed.

“This is just another measure that our government is using to attract more GPs to regional areas,” Mr Pasin said.

“Incentivising doctors and nurse practitioners to live and work outside of metropolitan areas will help improve access to quality health care for regional, rural and remote communities.” Mr Pasin said.

“The Morrison Government is focused on delivering better outcomes, reducing access barriers and creating a flexible system that works for all Australians, regardless of where they live. This announcement continues to build on this Government Stronger Rural Health Strategy and our longstanding efforts to grow our own rural GP and medical workforce,” Mr Pasin said.