AFTER more than a decade of being classified as a city with a serious shortage of GP services, Wagga’s doctor to population ratio is now considered above the national average.

But this means new overseas trained doctors (OTDs) wishing to move to the city will no longer be able to attract Medicare benefits because Wagga is not deemed a district of workforce shortage (DWS).

And it will also be harder to attract Australian-trained medical graduates because additional students under The Bonded Medical Places Scheme require placements in a DWS.

Murrumbidgee Medicare Local (MML) CEO Nancye Piercy said the change in status was based on a formula using Australian Bureau of Statistics data and Medicare billing data.

She said that whereas 10 years ago Wagga had one GP for every 3000 people, this had today halved to one in every 1500.

“There’s an opportunity for OTDs to apply for exemptions on a one-by-one basis so they can still move here,” she said.

“It would probably be right to say we were expecting this (Wagga no longer being classified as a DWS), we have got fairly good levels of GPs in the community.”

OTDs make up 63 per cent of Wagga’s GP services.

A spokeswoman for the Department of Health and Ageing said Wagga people were accessing more Medicare-rebated services and data determining DWS status was reviewed every three months.

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