A District of Workforce Shortage classification does not mean there is a shortage of GPs in that location. A DWS also doesn’t mean there is patient demand.
The Department of Health’s DWS zoning is great in theory but we have seen first-hand why it doesn’t work in practice.
DWS was put in place by the Department of Health, in an attempt to encourage overseas trained doctors to render medical services in areas that have less access to medical services than the national average. But just because an area is below the national average, does not mean that they are screaming out for doctors.
Unfortunately, some clinic owners made bad business decisions and established clinics in DWS areas because they assumed that DWS means there is patient demand. In some cases that is true, but in others it is not.
While the DWS zoning initially helps practices in attracting overseas trained GPs. It also creates pockets of over-doctored areas where GPs struggle to build and establish patient numbers. Poorly run practices are aware of the impact losing DWS has on their ability to recruit new GPs, and often out of fear, sign on more GPs than is necessary for the clinic before the February change. Thus leaving the GPs in the practice twiddling their thumbs and eventually leaving.
GPs that are looking for a new job but are restricted by a moratorium face the difficult task of finding a position that is going to be financially sustainable.
Part of our role as experts in the Australian GP workforce is to monitor recruitment trends and feedback from GPs who are struggling to build a patient base. We make every effort to make sure that the options we provide for our GPs are not only going to be a great cultural fit but that they are earning well.
If you are unsure on whether an area is over doctored, under doctored or may lose DWS, contact us and we can help give advice.