Blue Mountains towns reclassified to help reduce doctor shortage

Sunday, 20 February 2022

GP clinics in Katoomba and Springwood will be able to recruit overseas trained doctors and bonded medical practitioners, after local doctors successfully applied to have their outer-metropolitan status reconsidered by a federal government review. 


Mr Luke McLoughlin of the Upper Mountains Medical Centre, Katoomba, and Ms Kate Gunn, Director of Balance! Springwood Family Practice, Springwood, both made applications to the Morrison Government’s ‘exceptional circumstances’ review. 


Liberal Senator for Western Sydney, Senator the Hon Marise Payne, said the reclassification meant that local medical practices in the catchment have more opportunities to address local GP doctor shortages.


“This change gives local GP practices a larger pool of doctors to recruit from, which should make it easier for clinics to secure more doctors for the Katoomba-Springwood region,” Senator Payne said.


“Local clinicians working collaboratively with the government over an extended period of time has helped get this over the line.”


Kate Gunn, Director of Balance! Springwood Family Practice, welcomed the policy decision. 


“Balance Springwood Family Practice is delighted that we have received Distribution Priority Area status as this allow us and other practices to recruit much needed GPs for the lower Blue Mountains,” Ms Gunn said. 


“Our ability to increase our workforce to manage demand will provide much-needed additional services to patients.  


“We want to thank the government for establishing this review process – it really is working and it’s our patients who will benefit.”


Wentworth Healthcare, the provider of the Nepean Blue Mountains Primary Health Network, helps support local general practices to attract, recruit and retain skilled primary healthcare professionals.


Wentworth Healthcare CEO, Lizz Reay, said the decision was a win for the community.


“We have been advocating for a review of the current Distribution Priority Area status in our region for some time to help address GP shortages in areas like the Blue Mountains, and assisted Upper Mountains Medical Centre with their application, so we are delighted with this result,” Ms Reay said.


Senator Payne said a recent announcement by Templeman regarding the Katoomba-Springwood catchment was now past its used-by date. 


“It’s disappointing that Ms Templeman tried to play politics on this issue knowing full well that the government’s exceptional circumstance review was already running,” Senator Payne said.


“Unfortunately, it seems like Ms Templeman’s announcement was just another opportunity to be negative, and yet again highlights her total inability to actually deliver for the Blue Mountains.”

The exceptional circumstances review applications were considered by an independent working group, which made recommendations to Minister Gillespie. 


More information about the review can be found here: