Member for Lowan Emma Kealy has called on the Andrews Labor Government to explain what it’s doing to address critical GP shortages in rural health, as communities in western Victoria continue to go without a local GP.
Daniel Andrews recently announced a $50,000 incentive to encourage teachers to relocate to country areas in an attempt to fill vacancies.
Ms Kealy said the Government must explain why incentives were on offer to address staff shortages in some critical sectors, but not others.
“We know there is a critical shortage of health professionals in country areas,” Ms Kealy said.
“I am regularly contacted by local constituents concerned about the rural doctor shortage.
“The current situation in Minyip, Rupanyup and Murtoa is a perfect example with local residents being left without a doctor after their only doctor recently departed for Melbourne.
“I have also been approached by local pharmacy owners frustrated at their inability to attract qualified pharmacists to the area, as well as numerous other health providers finding it difficult to fill vacant positions.
“The Royal Commission into Mental Health has confirmed the critical shortage of mental health professionals in rural areas.
“It is difficult, if not almost impossible, to attract health professionals into country areas without financial incentives.
“If the Andrews Labor Government is prepared to offer incentives to teachers, why not also extend it to include doctors, pharmacists, mental health professionals and other shortages our communities are facing in rural health?”
According to the Rural Workforce Agency Victoria, there is currently 192 GP vacancies in regional Victoria, compared to just five across Melbourne.