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Another change to the landscape of General Practice - farewell District Workforce Shortage (DWS)

27 Jun 15:00 by the Medical Recruitment Team

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For at least the last 5 years the DOH (Department of Health) has been suggesting big changes were ahead in relation to classifications - first RRMA, then RA and then DWS.

When the Modified Monash Model was first released it was hard to fathom why and what it would be used for, given that the other classifications were still being used extensively.

But... 2018 and 2019 has seen the MMM burst through as the guide to all things GP and trample on those classifications of before.

The big changes so far that have hit us:

  • IMG (International Medical Graduate) visa changes and the requirement of HWCs (Health Workforce Certificates); more information.

  • The end to RLRP (Rural Locum Relief Program) to new entrants; more information.

  • The end of OMPs (Other Medical Practitioners programs) to new entrants; more information.

  • The end of SAPP (Special Approved Placements Program) to new entrants (1st July 2019); more information

  • The emergence of PEP; more information.

  • The emergence of MDRAP; more information.

  • The transition of GPRIP (General Practice Rural Incentives Program) to WIP (Workforce Incentive Program) commencing 1st Jan 2020; more information.

The real BIGGY though is due to be rolled out on Monday the 1st July 2019.

DWS (District Workforce Shortage) is going to be removed and replaced by yes, another acronym - DPA (Distribution Priority Areas).

You can view the DoctorConnect fact sheet for more information (PDF).

It is fair to say that this change is creating grave concern to Doctors, Practices and of course recruiters. We perceive that this is going to create the greatest shift in the landscape of matching Doctor and opportunity.

The key things to take from the information released thus far is:

  • Areas that are DWS and in MM 1 (inner metro) will NOT become a DPA.

  • MM 5 -7 will automatically become DPA.

  • Northern Territory will automatically become DPA.

  • MM 2 - 4 will be deemed DPA if the ratio of Doctor to patient is below the average in MM2 regions.

  • Other Exemptions should not be affected - this is yet to be confirmed though.

There are many unknowns that are still to be uncovered, the key one being whether there will be a window for any current DWS locations looking for Doctors and if so, how long this will be for.

Our advice is, if you are currently a DWS area and are advertising for a Doctor and even better in talks with a potential Doctor, PLEASE ensure that you have written documentation to back this up. If there is a window, then this may be the only way to use it!


Medical Recruitment pride ourselves in being specialists in the field of General Practice Recruitment. We welcome any questions, queries or input in relation to this article, any current changes or anything GP career related. Feel free to contact us to discuss your personal requirements and situation.