A State Government decision to give regional Local Governments a tender exemption to retain General Practitioner (GP) services has been welcomed by WALGA.
The decision will mean regional Local Governments are no longer required to re-tender existing GP services on a regular basis and therefore avoid the risk that a well-regarded GP may not engage in a new tender process.
WALGA President Karen Chappel welcomed the State Government decision saying it would ease the burden for many regional Local Governments and reduce unnecessary red tape.
“There is a limited pool of GPs in Western Australia and as a result some Local Governments have experienced difficulties in attracting GPs to relocate and remain in regional communities,” she said.
“Communities want their Local Government to retain a well-regarded GP that is willing to continue in the role and this has been incompatible at times with existing regulations.
“Until now compliance has required Local Governments to re-market existing GP services, initially by a tender process, with a potential risk that a popular GP service provider may not engage in the new tender process.
“There are still many significant challenges for universal access to basic healthcare services in regional WA and while it is not a Local Government responsibility, Councils are stepping in to ensure their communities are able to see a GP locally. WALGA will continue to advocate in this space for our Members.”
WALGA raised and advocated for the changes and engaged in consultation on the necessary regulatory amendments for the regional tender exemption to help ensure continuity of GP services and primary health care in regional communities.
The new decision means Local Governments will be able to extend, vary or renew a GP services contract through decision at a Council meeting.  However, if a Local Government has their GP retire, or leave the district, then a tender process for the new GP will still be required.
Between 35 and 40 Local Governments in regional Western Australia currently subsidise a local GP service in their community.
Previously a Local Government was required to invite public tenders for contracts that are expected to be worth more than $250,000.
For an interview with WALGA President Karen Chappel please contact: 
Graham Mason, WALGA Media and Communications Manager
0448 896 435 or gmason@walga.asn.au