The Role of the Distribution Working Group and the Latest Updates on the DPA

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​In July 2019, the Distribution Priority Area (DPA) classification system started to facilitate placing medical practitioners in communities with acute needs.

The medical practitioners that can work as DPA GPs include International Medical Graduates and Australian-trained bonded doctors.

Furthermore, the Australian Government Department of Health assigned the Distribution Working Group (DWG) to implement and manage the system.

What is the Role of the Distribution Working Group

Established by the Government and directed by the First Assistant Secretary of the Health Workforce Division, the Distribution Working Group’s goal is to address the maldistribution of the health workforce in rural and remote communities.

Generally, the Distribution Working Group reviews the current District of Workforce Shortage (DWS) system and the Modified Monash Model (MMM) geographical classification systems.

It advises the Government on the health-related geographical classifications, distribution mechanisms, and catchment sizes and areas which can be used to improve the workforce distribution, especially in areas of greatest need.

Additionally, the Distribution Working Group also reviews, assesses, and advises the Minister for Regional Health about applications from areas that request a review of their DPA classification.

To learn more about the other responsibilities of the DWG, you can read the archive from the 2018 Distribution Working Group meeting.

Normally the DWG meets four times per year but this schedule has changed because of the Covid-19 pandemic. So, since November 2021, the DWG meeting has been held every two weeks to accommodate all of the review applications.

The New DPA Review Process

In September 2021, the DPA announced the new review process named Exceptional Circumstances Reviews and Outcomes.

Practices in rural and non-DPA locations in Australia can request DPA classification. This request will then be assessed and approved by the Distribution Working Group.

According to the Federal Regional Health Minister, Dr. David Gillespie, this review will support the Regional Workforce Agency by assessing the following factors:

  • Patient demographics or changes such as a sharp increase in population, socio-economic status of people, and proportion of the senior people.

  • Absence of services to check what healthcare programs a specific area or community is lacking. This will also consider the difficulty of recruiting or retaining doctors.

  • Changes to health services, workforce, or health system to see whether a clinic should receive support to attract general practitioners. Some of the changes in this section include doctor retirements, hospital closures, and practice closures.

After submission of a request, the DWG will assess the application within three (3) weeks of submission.

If the request is awarded DPA status, changes can take effect on the next scheduled DPA review but those approved areas will be notified within two (2) weeks of the DWG meeting.

Additionally, the approved GP catchment areas can access several working programs such as the following:

Take note that the Minister for Regional Health will decide on the outcomes of the review. For transparency, all the outcomes will be published regularly and the updates will also be uploaded on the Health Workforce Locator every first of July.

Important Changes in the DPA Classification System

The DPA was first introduced in the year 2019, and in March 2021, it was reported that GPs were allowed to challenge the DPA classification in their area, and based on the information above, there have been a lot of changes since then.

Today, anyone can request an exceptional circumstance review. To request, applicants should first contact the Rural Workforce Agency (RWA) of their state or territory for additional help and advice.

If you are a general practitioner and you wish to find a stable DPA role, you can consider Medical Recruitment in searching for a DPA-approved area. At Medical Recruitment, we can help you navigate the DPA GP changes and maximize your earning potential while considering your preferences.

Since 1986, Medical Recruitment has been specialising in GP recruitment, thus, consultants from the company have expert knowledge in the space. If you’re looking for an exciting opportunity to work as a permanent or locum GP job or even for a GP role after hours, then look no further - get in touch with our Recruitment Consultants now.​​​