Reports of nearly 200 GP clinics around Australia closing in the past year is deeply concerning, Shadow Assistant Minister for Regional Health Anne Webster says.

NewsGP has been supplied data from 17 of Australia’s 31 Primary Health Networks (PHNs) showing at least 184 general practices have closed nationwide, significantly more than the 60 closures in four years identified by the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners earlier this year.

“These closures, and there could be more that aren’t captured by the data, are not being offset by new clinics,” Dr Webster said.

“This highlights the crisis our health sector is facing, and this is only exacerbated in regional Australia under the watch of the Albanese Labor Government.”

Dr Webster said Labor’s expansion of Distribution Priority Areas as one of Health Minister Mark Butler’s first decisions since taking office saw 57% of International Medical Graduate doctors move to urban settings away from regional areas.

“The expansion of the DPA was a major factor in GP clinics closing in Mallee and around Australia, there are not enough doctors and Labor’s policy simply funnelled the workforce to outer suburbs of major cities,” Dr Webster said.

“They have done nothing to alleviate GP shortages in the regions and these nationwide closures are simply disastrous for those living in the country.”

Earlier this month the Nationals Federal Conference backed Dr Webster’s motion to increase the number of general practitioners in regional Australia by capping Medicare Provider Numbers in oversupplied metropolitan areas and encouraging doctors to take up provider numbers in rural, regional and remote Australia.

“One of the key outcomes of the Mildura Regional Health Workforce Summit I convened in March was identifying the need for policy that makes moving to the regions viable for doctors and all health professionals,” Dr Webster said.

“This policy of capping provider numbers, with an activity test to ensure enough provider numbers are issued in regional Australia to guarantee adequate full-time equivalent GPs, will help turn the harmful tide Minister Butler and the Albanese Labor Government are presiding over.”