Distribution Priority Area (DPA) system replaces District of Workforce Shortage (DWS) for GPs

08 July 2019 | Australian GPs, Clinic Owners and Practice Managers, UK/Ireland GPs | 3 minutes read

Distribution Priority Area (DPA) system replaces District of Workforce Shortage (DWS) for GPs

A taskforce by the government called Distribution Working Group (DWG) was commissioned to review and improve the current DWS model to better reflect its primary purpose which is the distribution of GPs to areas of need. DWS still applies to IMGs who practice in specialities (other than General Practice), such as Anaesthetists, Cardiologists, Psychiatrists, and more. DWG recommended to launch a new system called Distribution Priority Area (DPA) which applies to GPs and Bonded Doctors.

The purpose of the new health workforce Distribution Priority Area (DPA) classification system is to better identify locations in Australia with a shortage of medical practitioners. The new DPA system has come into effect from 1st July 2019.

What is a Distribution Priority Area (DPA)?

It’s a new model with a range of new methodologies to identify and determine areas with a need for more GPs based on community needs. The DPA forms part of the Stronger Rurual Health Strategy which aims at reducing the number of overseas trained doctors in metropolitan areas and diverting them to rural areas where they are needed. In essence, it’s one of the tools to regulate supply and demand of GPs across Australia.

More information available on the Department of Health’s Distribution Priority Area fact sheet.

What factors are considered to be classified as Distribution Priority Area?

Areas that meet the following criteria are automatically classified as Distribution Priority Area:

  • classified as MM 5 to 7
  • located in the Northern Territory

Other locations can be classified as DPA if they meet a specific benchmark that determines the level of health services in an area. This benchmark also considers gender & age demographics and the socio-economic status of patients.

Areas that are definitely not qualified to be a DPA;

  • Inner metropolitan areas

What’s the difference of DPA and DWS?

DWS still exists but doesn’t apply to GPs anymore. GPs are now bound by the new system called Distribution Priority Area. Non-GP specialists remain under the DWS classification system and they may have to work in a District of Workforce Shortage to access Medicare if they are subject to 19 AB.

District of Workforce Shortage is more simplified and only takes into account the number of specialists likened to the population of an area.

The Distribution Priority Area classification is more sophisticated and also considers gender and age demographics, and socio-economics of patients living in an area.

What areas are currently classified as Distribution Priority Areas?

Alecto maintains a list of classified DPAs sorted by state. Click here to see the list.

Alternatively, if you want to search for a specific area to check if it’s classified as Distribution Priority Area, you can use the Health Workforce Locator on the Department of Health website.

If you have any questions regarding Distribution Priority Areas or if you need assistance in finding a GP job in your desired area, please contact Alecto Australia at info@alecto.com.au or +61 1800 604 332

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