Bendigo health professionals have welcomed a change to the city's classification, which they say could ease a shortage of general practitioners.
But some say it will not fix the underlying issue of doctors retiring, and other financial pressures of practices.
The Department of Health has confirmed that Bendigo will become a priority area for doctor distribution. This means GP clinics will be able to recruit overseas trained doctor from July 1.
The change followed health professionals warning that a shortage of general practitioners in Bendigo was putting patients at risk.
Bendigo Community Health Services director of Primary Health Care Services Graem Kelly said the priority status would assist in easing Bendigo's shortage of GPs.
Mr Kelly said, however, there was a broader issue in the shortage: too many doctors retiring, and the majority of Australian graduates still seeking to work in metropolitan areas.
He said it would still be a tight market to recruit GPs because of the restriction in the number of overseas trained doctors.
He pointed to a bottleneck, slowing overseas trained doctors' registration.
Mr Kelly said health services in Bendigo were also at risk from a possible change in bulk billing incentives, which could put further pressure on practices.
"On the horizon Bendigo faces the challenge of reclassification stopping the bulk billing incentive being available to practice, which reduces income for those practices trying to match services to the most disadvantaged and poorest in our community," Mr Kelly said.
"That puts a lot of not for profit managed medical practices at risk.
"If the incentive is withdrawn it will put significant pressure on the capacity and the sustainability of bulk billing clinics in Bendigo."
Mr Kelly said Medicare had been heavily restricted, meaning it could not reflect change in workforce demand, or salary.
There had been pressure on medical practices to squeeze efficiencies, to allow them to pay staff sustainable wages, he said.
Many faced collapse, if they didn't share the cost of providing services with their patients, he said.
Minister for Regional Services, Decentralisation and Local Government Mark Coulton, and the Department of Health confirmed on Friday that Bendigo would become a priority area for the distribution of doctors under a new system.
Known as the Distribution Priority Area system, the model will replace the previous system under which certain areas were classed as districts of workforce shortage.
Bendigo was not a district of workforce shortage.
Clinics in Bendigo will now be able to recruit doctors who have trained overseas, and medical students who have agreed to go to a certain area in exchange for a Commonwealth Supported Place at university.
Lowndes Street Clinic principle Hany Georgeos said recruiting overseas trained doctors would definitely ease the GP shortage in Bendigo.
He said it would make it easier to recruit more GPs to the clinic, and then take on new patients who could not find a doctor.
Dr Georgeos said this would make it possible to see patients in a more timely manner, possibly reducing the length of their illness, improving their treatment outcomes.
He said the change could also reduce the stress on doctors, which came from overwork and burn out.
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