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GPs are on the list of 17 professional groups identified as a priority need in Australia, but the Department of Health continues to block their entry to key population centres in Australia. The new Priority Migration Skilled Occupation List (PMSOL) has been created to fast track visas and travel exemptions for these select professions, but a range of other policies continue to block entry for GPs.

For the past 18 months, overseas GPs wanting to work in Australia on a Skilled Migration Visa (one of the visas listed for fast tracking on the PMSOL) need to have a Health Workforce Certificate. These are not available for any metropolitan areas – regardless of the demand for GP services.

Alecto contacted the Visas for GPs program recently and was told there are no changes to the visa restrictions and the following:

“the Initiative that we administer is aimed at directing the flow of OTDs to areas that need additional primary health services (GPs) mostly in rural, remote and regional Australia”

“In Perth, outer metropolitan areas are desperate for GPs and offering above market rates in a desperate bid to meet patient demand” says Monique Giron, Alecto Director based in Perth. “There are very few GPs available and those that are, can’t work in these areas due to restrictions imposed by the new RACGP PEP program and the Visas for GPs program regardless of 19AB exemptions available to them”.

Even a cursory glance at the DPA map reveals that even in regional Australia, many centres do not qualify for the visa program or the RACGP PEP program. Recently, we worked with a clinic located in a MMM3 location that was not approved for a Health Workforce Certificate for an overseas GP even through they are in a regional area.

“The restrictions applying to metropolitan Perth, for example, cover all suburbs through to Busselton, Gingin, Northam even though the majority of the WA population is living in Perth suburbs” says Monique Giron.

These policies are driving disadvantage in outer metropolitan areas. “Particularly in Sydney, Brisbane and Perth, there is no possibility of gaining a visa to work as GP” say Martina Stanley, Alecto Director.  “Affluent, inner suburban areas generally manage to attract GPs, but we never get applications from Australian trained GPs who are willing to work in bulk billing settings in middle and outer suburban areas”.