Port Augusta declared doctor priority zone

Doctors in Port Augusta have been working regular overtime and double shifts.
Doctors in Port Augusta have been working regular overtime and double shifts.

After years of grappling with a doctor shortage, clinics in Port Augusta will find reprieve after being classified as a Distribution Priority Area (DPA) by the federal government.

Last year the Commonwealth introduced a the new policy to address shortfalls of doctors in the bush.

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It replaced the districts of workforce shortage assessment areas for GPs and bonded doctors, which used a GP-to-population ratio to determine areas of need.

The new system now factors in the gender, age and socioeconomic status of patients living in GP catchments.

Mayor Brett Benbow welcomed the announcement.

"Port Augusta desperately requires more GPs to support our community and to reduce the workloads of existing GPs," he said.

"Whilst this is only one piece of the puzzle in attempting to attract additional GPs to Port Augusta, the news is being gratefully received."

Australian trained doctors with return-of-service obligations work in DPA locations to access the Medicare Benefits Schedule.

Practices located in a DPA location employ these doctors to improve access to subsidised Medicare services.