Federal Member for Gilmore Fiona Phillips is working to alleviate "an escalating GP crisis".
Mrs Phillips is aware of the ongoing struggle to get general practitioners to regional areas like the Gilmore electorate and says her government is looking into the matter.
The Milton Ulladulla Times approached Mrs Phillips for comment after being told a Mollymook-based medical centre announced it would close early next year .
An online post explained why the centre would close down.
"It has become increasingly difficult to recruit and retain medical staff with the skyrocketing costs of running a practice," the centre's management explained in its online post.
Medical centre representatives were contacted for comment.
Mrs Phillips and State Member for the South Coast, Liza Butler, were both contacted for comment - here are their responses.
GP issues escalates
"It's no secret that the South Coast has been facing an escalating GP crisis for years," Mrs Phillips said.
Mrs Phillips said she has been raising concerns about the matter since she was first elected as Member for Gilmore in 2019.
"We are absolutely facing a shortage of local doctors, and the doctors we do have tell me regularly how they are struggling to keep up with demand and with the rising cost of living," the Federal Member for Gilmore said.
"With such a significant period of neglect, it is going to take time, commitment and strong will to turn the ship around.
"It won't happen overnight, we know that. That's why we are moving as quickly as we can to reform this space."
Mrs Phillips said health issues were one of her main priorities.
"Since the election of the Albanese Government, I have worked closely with the Minister for Health, and with local general practitioners, as we set about rebuilding general practice," she said.
"There is simply no higher priority in health for me, or for our government."
Mrs Phillips went on to highlight the government's investment in health.
"Our investments to strengthen Medicare [$6.1 billion-worth in the May Budget] are the largest investment in bulk billing in the history of Medicare," she said.
"In one year, we have delivered a larger increase to Medicare payments, through indexation boosts and the tripling of the bulk billing incentive effective, than was delivered over seven years by the former government.
She added the Mollymook Medical Centre was given financial assistance.
"Changes to the bulk billing incentive mean that Mollymook doctors receive 48 percent more for a standard bulk-billed consultation of under 20 minutes," she said.
"I was also really pleased to deliver the Mollymook Medical Centre a $25,000 Strengthening Medicare GP Grant to help improve their services," she added.
Regular communication from local doctors
"What I do hear from local doctors more than anything is the struggle to attract and retain doctors and other healthcare workers to the region. I know this has been an issue for the doctors at the Mollymook practice as well," Mrs Phillips said.
"I have raised this regularly with the Health Minister. I am really proud that the government has invested $163 million to attract and retain more health workers in regional and rural Australia through improving training and incentive programs and supporting the development of innovative models of multidisciplinary care.
"I know this has also been welcomed by local doctors as another step in the right direction."
The Federal Member for Gilmore is also looking forward to seeing the outcome of a current review.
"What we do know is that many of the levers available to the government to spread doctors into the regions are from a time before COVID-19 and the global health workforce crunch, so we're conducting the Working Better for Medicare Review to see how we can do this more equitably, and I look forward to the outcomes of that review," she said.
Mrs Phillips said her efforts in this area would continue.
"In the meantime, I will continue sharing these stories directly with the Federal Health Minister to ensure local voices are heard so we can do everything possible to better support, attract and retain doctors on the South Coast," she said.
State member is keen to work with the Federal Government
State Member for the South Coast, Liza Butler, is on a committee looking into this important matter.
"Accessing GPs is primarily a Federal Government responsibility, but one of the first acts of the Minns State Government was to establish a Select Committee on Remote, Rural and Regional Health and I proudly serve as a member of this Committee," she said.
"A major part of this inquiry is addressing staffing and access to healthcare professionals in remote, rural, and regional communities.
"The committee has a Public Hearing today [Friday, November 24] that will continue discussions around workforce recruitment and retention to address shortages across NSW."
State Government's plans
"For the State Government's part, it will boost the level of both GPs and hospital doctors in our regional, rural, and remote communities, through the expansion of the single-employer model," she said.
"The single employer model is a game-changer, which allows rural generalist practitioners to move their benefits between primary care and hospital settings and provides ease of transition between GP surgeries and hospitals.
"It is currently being trialled in select parts of NSW, but from my discussions with Health Minister Ryan Park, - he is looking to see where else this initiative can be expanded."
Mrs Butler went on to explain what else the State Government was doing on the health front.
"The Minns Labor Government is also rolling out 25 urgent care services across the state over the next two years, which will boost our primary care capacity, including in the Southern NSW Local Health District," she said.
"We are also seeking to boost the broader healthcare workforce in regional, rural, and remote areas, including through the rural health incentive scheme; introducing healthcare worker study subsidies; and rolling out key worker accommodation."
Her efforts will continue
"I will continue to work with the Minister for Health and Minister for Regional Health, Ryan Park, with the Federal Government and with Fiona, to ensure improvements to health services in our community, and I welcome their investment and efforts in this space," Mrs Butler said.