WALGA President Karen Chappel said regional communities were struggling to maintain basic GP Services, and the Shire of Quairading’s experience was just the tip of the iceberg.
The Shire of Quairading is offering an annual package of nearly $1 million in a desperate bid to secure a doctor for the Wheatbelt Shire.
A 2018 Regional Health Services in WA Survey found that 25 Local Governments contributed to the wages of a GP or nurse as a way of securing a service in their region.  Other incentives such as accommodation, vehicles and leases were also incentivised.
Ms Chappel said timely and affordable access to general practitioners, nurses, midwives, pharmacists, dentists and Aboriginal health workers in regional areas of WA was much lower than metropolitan areas.
She said there was evidence that people in the regions statistically experience higher prevalence of chronic disease and mental health conditions, higher hospital admissions and emergency department attendances.
“The expectations of communities that Councils provide these services is becoming unrealistic, and ultimately impacts on other services Councils are also expected to deliver,” she said.
“We know there are more than 30 regional Councils that contribute to the wages, leasing, infrastructure upgrades, equipment costs, accommodation and vehicle expenses just so they can secure basic medical services.
“Regional Councils, like Quairading, offering incentive packages of nearly $1 million is unfortunately becoming the norm and we are increasingly seeing regional Shires compete against each other for GP services.
“Fundamentally however, the provision of Primary Health Care services is a Federal and State responsibility that in large parts of our State is being met by Local Government.”

For an interview with WALGA President Karen Chappel contact:  Graham Mason, WALGA Media and Communications Manager on 0448 896 435 or gmason@walga.asn.au