BENDIGO aged care residents may be struggling to access general practice treatment in-house as the city faces a doctor shortage.
Aged care residents living in the Murray Primary Health Network region are less likely to see a GP than those in other parts of the state according to data from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare.
Health and aged care workers say Bendigo aged care residents are among those struggling to access care.
Bendigo Community Health Services director of Primary Health Care Services Graem Kelly said it was extremely difficult for aged care residential facilities to access general practice services, due to the day to day demand on GPs.
Health professionals report Bendigo GPs are facing a heavy load already.
Mr Kelly said cover for aged care appeared to have gotten worse since June.
He said a significant number of doctors complained about the poor funding offered by the Medicare Benefits Schedule for nursing home care.
Bendigo has been without a dedicated home doctor service since March, when the National Home Doctor Service withdrew citing cuts to Medicare rebates for home visits.
Mr Kelly said a lack of primary care for aged care patients meant conditions that could be managed early on might end up in hospital.
"The cover for aged care appears to have got incredibly worse and worse as this shortage of GPs continues," Mr Kelly said.
"It's extremely difficult for nursing homes and other aged care, residential facilities to access GP services at the moment, due to the fact that there's such demand on them in their day to day work.
"It's difficult to make it attractive for GPs to take on an aged care load on top of that."
Council for the Aging advocate Ruth Hosking said it was hard to find general practitioners willing to visit aged care homes in Bendigo, and across Australia.
She said it was difficult for living in aged care to access general practice care if family could not take them to the doctor.
Ms Hosking said the issue had become more pronounced since the government changed the Medicare rebate for home visits in April.
Bendigo Family Practice doctor Arvind Sharma said there was adequate care available for those living in residential aged care.
"We find that there are certain GPs who have a preference for seeing a lot of the nursing home patients. So you'll find nursing homes will have a cohort of a couple of GPs," Dr Sharma said.
"For general GP it's a difficult prospect to take time out during the day to acutely see nursing home patients."
The Department of Health has been contacted for comment.
Region's GPs see 550,682 patients
MORE than 90 per cent of people in the almost 100,000 square kilometre health region including Bendigo saw a general practitioner last year.
GPs in the Murray Primary Health Network provided almost 3.762-million services to 550,682 patients.
Australian Institute of Health and Welfare Data showed the region's GPs delivered 615.68 services per 100 people.
About 611,000 people live in the Murray Primary Health Network, which traces most of the state's northern border and dips down past Castlemaine and Seymour.
The proportion of people accessing GP services in Murray was comparable with other regional Victorian primary health networks.
More than 90 per cent of Gippsland residents accessed GP services in the past year, along with almost 90 per cent of residents in Western Victoria PHN.
The proportion of people visiting their GP in metropolitan Victorian regions varied between 85 and 87 per cent.
Nationwide, 21.6 million people visited a GP.
Have you signed up to the Bendigo Advertiser's daily newsletter and breaking news emails? You can register below and make sure you are up to date with everything that's happening in central Victoria.