The Gladstone region has been identified as having a shortage of seven out of eight areas of medical specialists.
The Gladstone region has been identified as having a shortage of seven out of eight areas of medical specialists.

Shortage of medical specialists in Gladstone

If you regularly have trouble getting appointments with a medical specialist in the Gladstone region, you’re not the only one – the Federal Health Department has recognised the shortage.

General surgery is the only medical specialist area the region not identified as having a District Workforce Shortage (DWS).

Eight medical specialties are defined under a DWS; anaesthetics, cardiology, diagnostic radiology, general surgery, obstetrics and gynaecology, ophthalmology, medical oncology and

psychiatry.

The Federal Health Department defines a DWS as “an area where people have poor access to specialist medical practitioners.”

A DWS is calculated by the number of specialists in comparison to an area’s population.

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The Gladstone region has been identified as having a shortage of seven out of eight areas of medical specialists.
The Gladstone region has been identified as having a shortage of seven out of eight areas of medical specialists.

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“Any specialty group that has a ratio of less than three full-time service equivalent per 100,000 population is currently considered to be in acute shortage and is automatically classified as DWS,” the Federal Health department states.

It is different to a Distribution Priority Area DPA for GPs, which is “based on gender and age demographics, and the socio-economic status of patients living in an area.”

A Federal Health Department spokeswoman said the DWS of the Gladstone region would be reassessed in July.

“The Districts of Workforce Shortage for specialists status is not related to or impacted by the DPA status of a region,” the spokeswoman said.

“The DWS system compares the full-time service equivalent per 100,000-population ratio to the national average for each speciality group.

“Areas with a ratio greater than the national average are classified as non-DWS.”

The reclassification of areas including Gladstone occurs annually.

“DWS is updated annually and uses Medicare claims data and Australian Bureau of Statistics population data to identify the level of Medicare subsidised medical service provision for each speciality, in each geographical area of Australia,” the Federal Health spokeswoman said.

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