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20 August, 2021

Call for submissions: Doctor shortage Senate inquiry

SHORTAGES of doctors in regional areas such as Cairns, Innisfail and the Tablelands are expected to be revealed in full detail during a Senate inquiry due to start in coming weeks – and submissions are being called for.

By David Gardiner

SHORTAGES of doctors in regional areas such as Cairns, Innisfail and the Tablelands are expected to be revealed in full detail during a Senate inquiry due to start in coming weeks – and submissions are being called for.

The inquiry’s chair, Cairns-based Queensland Senator Nita Green said the inquiry will examine the shortage of GPs in outer metro, regional and rural Australia.

She said GP shortages are not only impacting on patients trying to see a doctor for regular appointments, but the effect is felt in hospital emergency departments where people end up going during the night to try to see a doctor. 

“It’s an issue that is raised a lot by locals in Cairns and right across our region whether it be Innisfail, the Tablelands or out west,” Senator Green said.


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The inquiry will include scrutiny into current government programs which aim to offer incentives for GPs to practice in remote, rural and outer-suburban areas, but also will take a look at GP training reforms, the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on doctor shortages, and the Medicare rebate freeze - which doctor representatives argue has been the main cause of the shortage of bulk-billing GP practices.

 “The inquiry is currently accepting submissions, so I’d encourage people from our region to put their views and experiences forward – whether you’re a GP or simply a resident who has faced a tough time accessing a doctor when they need one,” Senator Green said.

“I want the inquiry to have the real story on the ground from regional Queensland because we should all have access to quality health care regardless of our postcode.”

 GP shortages, according to Senator Green, can also mean a shortage of specialists.


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