LABOR has committed to restoring Whittlesea’s status as a distribution priority area, DPA, for general practitioners in a bid to combat a doctor shortage in the region. 

Member for McEwen Rob Mitchell last month announced Labor would restore Wallan’s DPA status if it wins this weekend’s federal election, allowing practices in the town to hire overseas-trained doctors, as well as Australian-trained doctors under the Bonded Medical Program. 

This week he said Labor would also restore Whittlesea’s DPA status. 

“For too long the Morrison government has neglected calls for assistance from local GP clinics in Whittlesea who have been experiencing significant difficulties finding and retaining doctors,” he said. 

“The Liberal government removed the designated workforce shortage [DWS] status from Whittlesea, which has had devastating impacts on local clinics. 

“This reclassification came on top of the Liberal government’s decisions to cut the bulk-billing incentive payment to local GPs and freeze GPs’ pay for six years. All of this has meant it’s never been harder or more expensive for people in Whittlesea to see their doctor and it has put extra pressure on surrounding towns.” 

Mr Mitchell said locals had struggled with wait times at local doctors’ clinics for years. 

He said a $750 million Labor election commitment to establish a Strengthening Medicare Taskforce would identify ways to boost affordability, improve access, and better support patients with ongoing and chronic illness.