THE region's shortage of doctors is rapidly reaching crisis point.
Boort is the latest town to be impacted by the rural doctor shortage with the town's only medical clinic set to close on November 1.
Boort District Health is now scrambling to recruit a general practitioner.
St Anthony Medical Practice, which operates the Boort clinic, has announced that it is no longer sustainable to continue sending GPs to Boort from its other Bendigo region practices to fill the vacancy left after the departure of a full-time doctor a year ago.
Kerang currently has three full-time general practitioners in one clinic following the departure of one doctor last month and the other clinic has two locum general practitioners. Both clinics are advertising for more doctors.
Kerang District Health has also terminated maternity services because it cannot attract a GP obstetrician.
Barham is also advertising for a doctor.
The Rural Workforce Agency of Victoria advises that there are currently 188 vacancies for general practitioners cross rural Victoria, 83 of them in northern Victoria. The agency has just two general practitioner vacancies listed for the Melbourne metropolitan area.
Member for Murray Plains Peter Walsh said he was "absolutely shocked" at the news of the Boort Medical Practice closure.
"The medical practice in Boort has been very strong for years, and particularly with the new hospital I would have thought it would be one place where it would be a little bit easier than some of the other parts of Victoria to attract doctors," he said.
"It's now incumbent on the Boort hospital, like a lot of other towns, to find a new doctor."
"There is pressure in a lot of communities to make sure there are doctors. The overall numbers of doctors in Australia is increasing but they're all in the cities."
Mr Walsh said there is almost double the number of doctors per head of population in our major cities compared with the country regions and said that it was incumbent on the health systems of the States and the Commonwealth to get a formalisation in how our doctor numbers are managed and rewarded so that some of those doctors in the city are relocated into the country.
Mr Walsh raised the issue in State Parliament in May, calling for greater support from the Victorian Government "to make sure that there are packages in place that 'incentivise' doctors to go to country towns to deliver the services that are so important for those towns — services that people in Melbourne take for granted."