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Purchasing a GP practice - Why conditions are favourable now for buyers

Whether individuals are considering purchasing an established practice or starting one from scratch, the current economic climate is trending toward one that’s favourable for buyers. The demand is high for quality GPs and specialists throughout Australia, and making the decision to purchase a practice would be a smart financial decision for potential investors.

GP Shortage

GPs are currently in serious shortage throughout Australia. In terms of supply and demand, the market is currently favourable for buyers.

In Townsville, Queensland, for example, a medical centre there has not been able to find a new doctor to join the practice despite having a job vacancy posted for it since the beginning of the year. They’re not able to find anyone as a locum, either. One of the current doctors plans to retire in February, as well, leaving the burden of a patient load placed on the two remaining physicians at the practice, one of whom is on medical leave currently.

Impacts of the GP Shortage

GP shortages can result in patients not receiving the care they need, existing GPs risk burnout from working too many hours.

In addition, despite more young graduates finishing medical school, it is expected that it may not be enough to fill the gaps because of the number of years it takes to train a GP properly.

Using Locums to Fill the Gaps

The current locum exception provision lets overseas trained doctors (OTDs) from outside of Australia and foreign graduates of an accredited medical school (FGAMs) obtain Medicare access in areas that are considered to be districts of workforce shortage (DWS). It allows these individuals, both overseas doctors and foreign graduates to fill short-term positions that don’t exceed six months. They must meet additional conditions related to their residency and fellowship status in Australia.

While this program may be useful for some practices, the short-term fix may not be enough, as it’s akin to putting a band-aid on the problem instead of devising a long-term solution. As these short-term stints can only last six months, practices are faced with the same situation after the term is complete.

Australia’s GP shortage continues to grow. Since the shortage of GPs has seemingly no relief in sight, investors would be smart to consider purchasing an existing practice or starting their own if they’re qualified. The market is robust, and the demand outpaces the supply.

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Sally Stuart
GP Clinic Sales and Business Brokering