Canberra help call on GP ‘crisis’

Michael TraillNarrogin Observer
Premier Mark McGowan in parliament.
Camera IconPremier Mark McGowan in parliament. Credit: The West Australian, Jackson Flindell The West Australian

Mark McGowan has referred the region’s doctor shortage to Canberra, after Member for Roe Peter Rundle grilled the Premier in State Parliament about the “crisis”.

“I refer to reports in the Narrogin Observer, Great Southern Herald, Avon Valley Advocate and several other media outlets that three hub hospitals in the Wheatbelt and Great Southern have been without doctors on more than 170 occasions in the last financial year,” Mr Rundle said in Parliament last Thursday.

“Would the Premier accept hospitals in Perth going without general practitioners when patients in need of urgent medical attention present to emergency departments?

“Besides contacting the Federal Government, what is the Premier doing to solve the GP shortage in the bush, which statistics show is reaching crisis point?”

The Premier called out Mr Rundle’s Federal National Party counterparts, pointing towards visa restrictions and Canberra’s disregard for regional WA.

“Obviously, we would like to see a greater GP presence in regional WA. Regional communities across the country often have fewer GPs than would be preferred,” Mr McGowan said.

“As members know, the provision of GPs is a matter for the Federal Government, and we have a Federal Liberal-National Government in power in Canberra today that could deal with this issue if it so chose.

“There is a range of policy issues that could be considered by the Federal Government, whether it is visa restrictions on overseas-trained doctors or setting district priority areas and enabling regional GPs to access Medicare rebates for telehealth.”

Mr Rundle then pointed to last week’s Narrogin Observerfront page in response.

“What would the Premier say to Narrogin grandmother Gwenda Midsem, her granddaughter Trinity and other patients who have presented to a hospital in need of emergency treatment only to find no doctors are available?” he said.

The Premier called on bi-partisanship to resolve the crisis.

“We require the Federal Government to provide more Medicare numbers and more provision of GPs into regional communities to allow for the provision of support into those regional hospitals,” he said.

“I say to your constituent or any constituent: join with us in working to get more GPs and more Medicare provision of support into regional WA.

“The Federal Government currently provides the lowest density of GPs in regional WA than in any other regional part of Australia.”

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