The following press release has been prepared by Martina Stanley and distributed to relevant outlets and government officials on 25 October 2021.
State Health Ministers across the country are scrambling to find doctors and nurses to address severe workforce shortages, while the Federal Government continues to implement policies designed to stem the flow of GPs into the country – in spite of the impacts of the pandemic.
A range of policies introduced in late 2018 and designed to stop the flow of GP doctors into outer metropolitan areas remain firmly in place in spite of the increased burden placed on GP clinics trying to support testing, vaccinations, and infection control protocols.
“The workforce policies have targeted GPs in particular by limiting their access to visas, reducing the geographic areas where they are able to work, and making the recognition of qualifications more difficult,” says Martina Stanley, Director of Alecto Australia, a specialist recruitment consultancy for GPs.
“The policies have stopped the flow of highly qualified GPs from the UK and Ireland at a time when numbers of Australian GP trainees are dropping by about 30% and fewer medical graduates are choosing General Practice as their specialty.”
“We have huge patient demand in the Western suburbs of Melbourne but can’t find enough GPs to provide the services our communities need,” says Scott Vickers Willis, clinic owner.
“We never get applications from Australian GPs because they are able to find plenty of work in more affluent suburbs closer to home. Yes, this is now at a crisis point and the people in the outer metropolitan areas and regional areas are again at the back of the queue. The system is broken.”
Coming to Australia has become more difficult for GPs because of visa restrictions and new hurdles for achieving registration. Even those GPs who have qualifications deemed as ‘substantially comparable’ to those of Australian GPs, face more and more restrictions resulting in numbers dropping by about 70%.
“It is impossible to keep up with the growing list of restrictions that have made it impossible for us to access doctors – including those already in Australia as they are not allowed to work in our area. We should be welcoming these highly skilled people with open arms, but we treat them so poorly I often find myself apologising for the Australian system being a disincentive to work,” continues Mr Vickers Willis.
Clinics in outer metro and regional areas have traditionally relied entirely on overseas trained doctors with over 50% of the workforce being from overseas. All overseas doctors are subject to a moratorium which significantly limits the areas where they are allowed to work for 10 years. Even those already registered and working in Australia are not allowed to work in outer metropolitan areas.
Over time the restrictions have become more severe as new hurdles are introduced and enforced across the country.
For further information please contact Martina Stanley on 0403 444 764