We have had a lot of enquiries from many of our practices and GPs about DWS changes. In the past, we could always be assured that if your area hadn’t changed status by 28 February, you could be certain there would be no further changes for 12 months. Unfortunately, that is not the case this year.
We have known for some time that the Department of Health was planning to ‘revamp’ the whole DWS system sometime in the near future. We didn’t know if this would be at the same time as the usual changes in February or whether it would be later.
As you can see from the screenshot below, they have announced that there will be further delays. In our view, this is an indication that they will be introducing the new system sooner rather than later – but probably not for several weeks or even months.
There is very little information about the potential changes, but we have been told that the new system is likely to be based on live data feeds from Medicare billings rather than using historical data. If this is correct, it is possible that the map will be updated more frequently as it was in the past when it literally could change on a daily basis.
We are also told that they are likely to use LGAs rather than SLAs as the basis of the geographical regions. If this is the case, it is likely that there will be less DWS areas because the larger catchments will hide some of the smaller pockets which are underserviced.
We will continue to try to gain as much information as possible about the proposed changes, but as always, we can only speculate until they give us a clear indication.
If your practice is currently in a DWS and you need advice on how to ensure that newly recruited GPs will be able to get a 19AB exemption, please feel free to contact Megan Lewis on firstname.lastname@example.org, In any case, we will be in contact as soon as more information comes to light.