Metropolis-dwellers shifting to regional Australia wrestle with extreme hole in inexpensive well being care

For many Aussies, moving to the regions has been the ideal escape from the anxieties of city life during a pandemic.

But are these city-dwellers getting the health care they need once they have relocated to the country?

For South Coast NSW resident Kim Hawkins, keeping up with medical expenses has been a real struggle.

The 48-year-old moved to Batemans Bay from Melbourne two years ago and has found it next to impossible to find a local GP covered by Medicare.

Kim Hawkins says he will soon have to drive a four-hour round trip from Batemans Bay to Canberra to see his GP.(Supplied: Kim Hawkins)

“I’m now seeing a clinic that doesn’t bulk bill and I end up paying a gap of about $60 to $70,” he said.

Local GPs have told the ABC they struggle to meet the costs of managing a regional clinic and cannot afford to bulk bill or take on new patients.

This meant a lot of doctors were less likely to move to a remote area to practice medicine.

With his GP on the coast planning a move to Canberra, Mr Hawkins said he was going to drive a four-hour round trip from Batemans Bay to access medical care.

“We need GPs like him because he’s fantastic,” he said.

Severe shortage in bulk-billing GPs

The ABC found that only five out of the 37 GP clinics in south-east NSW offered bulk-billed consultations for all patients, one of which is Narooma’s Blue House Surgery, which is due to shut down at the end of May.

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