• Without easy access to GPs, John Paterson said treatable illnesses are turning into life threatening problems. (AAP)Source: AAP
Health organisations in the NT say there are too few general practitioners in training in the Territory and it is "not good enough".
Brooke Fryer

9 Nov 2019 - 2:57 PM  UPDATED 9 Nov 2019 - 2:57 PM

Two Darwin-based peak health organisations have called on the Federal Government to review its level of support for general practitioners in the Northern Territory after a shortage of services has been revealed.

The Aboriginal Medical Services Alliance Northern Territory (AMSANT) and the Northern Territory Primary Health Network (NTPHN) are set to submit recommendations to the Commonwealth government that aim to prevent a decline in the number of GPs.

AMSANT chief John Paterson told NITV News the shortage of GPs "is not good enough".

“The recommendation is that we undertake an immediate review of the situation,” he said.

Mr Patterson said that a review "would be the best way to identify and to get to the bottom" of what is leading GPs away from practicing in remote locations.

Once doctors leave regional and remote areas like Katherine and Alice Springs it is very hard to “attract and retain” GPs afterwards, he said.

Without easy access to GPs in these regional and remote locations, treatable illnesses may turn into life-threatening problems, said Mr Paterson.

"We need to do everything in our power to find solutions," he said. "That’s why we want to work with the Federal Government.

“We need to make sure we have the right workforce looking over our very sick population.”

The territory’s sole GP training program – the Northern Territory General Practice Education – has seen a dramatic reduction in the number of young doctors coming through in recent years, said the program's chief executive officer, Stephen Pincus.

There are currently 120 people in the program with only four of them identifying as Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander, he said

“The general practice does not appear to be as attractive as it was some years ago. In the Northern Territory, I think we have felt that more significantly than other jurisdictions.”

The remote South Australian dialysis unit keeping Aboriginal patients on country
Some Aboriginal dialysis patients of the remote APY Lands used move over a thousand kilometres away from their community to get treatment.