EXCLUSIVE

'Together we've done it': Peel region's status reclassified to reduce doctor shortage

Pinjarra Doctors managing director Mala Pillay, Dr Emma Marshall, Dr Hendrik vander Walt, Dr Hannah Vorster and registrar Dr Jennifer Stephens ecstatic about the DPA classification. Photo: Supplied.
Pinjarra Doctors managing director Mala Pillay, Dr Emma Marshall, Dr Hendrik vander Walt, Dr Hannah Vorster and registrar Dr Jennifer Stephens ecstatic about the DPA classification. Photo: Supplied.

GP clinics in Mandurah and Pinjarra can now recruit overseas doctors and a larger pool of medical practitioners.

The Mail has been campaigning alongside GP clinics, politicians, alliances and the community to advocate for the Peel region's Distribution Priority Area (DPA) status to be changed.

Following years of lobbying, the DPA status was overturned due to an exceptional circumstances review which assessed patient demographics, absence of services and changes to the workforce.

This was a sigh of relief for clinics across the region who have been struggling to attract and retain doctors since the decision was made to rezone Mandurah as metropolitan and Pinjarra as outer-metropolitan.

For Pinjarra, this is the first time in 11 years that it has received DPA status.

When Pinjarra Doctors managing director Mala Pillay called the Mail with the good news it was as if her smile could be heard through the phone.

"When I got the news I did a little dance - it's a massive relief," she said.

"The patients will be the happiest because we'll be able to provide a service with ease.

"They will have the opportunity to get medical help when they need it - they won't have to wait weeks."

Related:

Pinjarra Doctors already have a new doctor, Emma Marshall, who started on January 31 before the DPA status changed.

"It was the best thing that could happen to us because it took the edge off."

The WA Primary Health Alliance (WAPHA) played a big role in advocating and creating submissions for the DPA review.

"The DPA reinstatement will help general practices recruit much needed workforce and, in some cases, prevent them from closing their doors," WAPHA general manager Chris Kane said.

"It is also good news for the growing Peel community who will be more easily able to access important health care from a GP in the future."

Related:

Canning MP Andrew Hastie, who has been lobbying for years, said the change in DPA status was "wonderful news".

"Having enough doctors is fundamental to any community and that's even more true when you live or work in a regional area like ours," he said.

"For a long time, practices and patients in Mandurah and Pinjarra have understood that our region needs this classification."

Ms Pillay thanked the community for their support including those who had sent in numerous letters for the DPA review.

"Hennie, Hannah and I would like to thank our staff and the community we serve for their understanding, patience and support during these trying times," she said.

"Thank you to Canning MP Andrew Hastie and his staff for making time to take on our plight and persevering with our crisis, arranging the meetings with the Federal Health Minister's office.

"Our local Shire, Mr Dean Unsworth and Cr David Bolt for working closely with us and for us to help close the gaps in health service provision for our community.

"There's a huge amount of people that came on board to support us - together we've done it."

Peel Health Hub manager Eleanor Britton says the DPA change was a recognition of everybody working together. Photo: File image.

Peel Health Hub manager Eleanor Britton says the DPA change was a recognition of everybody working together. Photo: File image.

Peel Health Hub manager Eleanor Britton thanked everyone who had made this DPA change happen.

"We'd like to really thank Andrew Hastie for his advocacy and support over the last two years," she said.

"We also had letters of support from Mandurah MP David Templeman, Dawesville MP Lisa Munday, Peel Development Commission and Regional Development Australia.

"We'd like to thank those bodies for their help."

Ms Britton said the DPA change was a recognition of everybody working together.

"It shows a really strong testament to what can be done when we work together rather than focus on individual needs."

More to come.