"Emergency call on GP shortage" - Northern Midlands Courier

Nearly 30 per cent of people in Tasmania's Lyons electorate surveyed recently said they didn't have a regular general practitioner.

Nearly 38 per cent of those in the survey conducted by Lyons MHR Brian Mitchell said they waited up to two weeks to get an appointment with their GP and nearly 26 per cent waited a month or longer.

Nearly half those surveyed in the state's largest electorate which takes in the Midlands, said they had to travel at least 20 kilometres to see their GP.

Mr Mitchell has presented the survey data as part of his submission to a Senate Standing Committee inquiry into the provision of general practitioner and related primary health services to outer metropolitan, rural and regional Australians.

Submissions to the Canberra-based inquiry have come from a range of organisations from across Australia including doctors, GP practice managers, universities, health advocates, and concerned citizens.

Mr Mitchell said that the findings from his community survey confirmed what he had been hearing for some time.

"People are finding it really hard to see a doctor when they need it and the pandemic has only made it more challenging," Mr Mitchell said.

In 2020, there were 26 GP clinics in Lyons spread out across its nearly 36,000 square kilometres.

The clinics ranged from single doctor practices to clinics with multiple GPs and also nurse services.

"Most report experiencing moderate and significant difficulty attracting and retaining GPs," Mr Mitchell said.

"Bigger towns have GP clinics but most report that their books are full and most rely on locum GPs and nursing services to manage their patient loads.

"In the past week, I have become aware of two GPs preparing to leave a practice in Westbury which will impact the communities of Westbury, Evandale and Sheffield.

"It is important to note the number of GPs across Lyons who are elderly - I know of at least three where doctors have practiced will into their 80s and 90s - so managing retirement is a significant issue."