General practitioner shortage in Port Augusta

DOCTOR SHORTAGE: Dr Mylapanahalli Shivashankaraiah of the Ghan Medical Centre wants Port Augusta to receive District of Workforce Shortage status.

DOCTOR SHORTAGE: Dr Mylapanahalli Shivashankaraiah of the Ghan Medical Centre wants Port Augusta to receive District of Workforce Shortage status.

THE PORT Augusta City Council is seeking District of Workforce Shortage status to assist with the recruitment of general practitioners (GP) in Port Augusta.

The status would allow the city to recruit doctors from overseas, with clinics in the region suffering from a shortage of workers.

There are two GPs at the Ghan Medical Centre, while Carlton Medical Centre and Augusta Westside Medical Centre have one GP each.

Ghan Medical Centre’s Dr Mylapanahalli Shivashankaraiah said the clinic has found it difficult to hire Australian doctors, receiving no applications from within the country in just under three and a half years of advertising.

“The work keeps on increasing and we are not able to get new doctors to come and that is a bit of a frustration,” he said.

“If we can get District of Workforce Shortage it opens up the gates for opportunities and there are possibilities that we can get more GPs here.”

Dr Shivashankaraiah said Ghan Medical Centre would have to scale down on their services if Port Augusta is not granted District of Workforce Shortage status.

This would include services they provide at nursing homes and assisting SA Police with forensic medical examinations.

“We will have to scale down the services we are providing, which would directly impact the community,” he said.

“We can’t be 24/7. If we want to go somewhere or if we are sick, we have to find a doctor that can provide the same service, which is not easily available because the other doctors are busy with their own work.”

Mayor Sam Johnson will send a letter to the federal Minister for Health Greg Hunt after addressing the issue at a recent Port Augusta City Council Meeting.

Mayor Sam Johnson said Port Augusta being declared a District of Workplace Shortage would benefit the whole region.

“We’ve been advertising for Australian doctors but to little avail, so if we can get the District of Workforce Shortage status it will allow those overseas doctors to come across and do their seven-year moratorium stay and hopefully after that period they will grow to love Port Augusta like many before them have,” he said.

“People are sometimes waiting three days to see their GP. In one case, someone had to wait two and a half weeks to see their GP.”

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