Date published: 
9 July 2021
Intended audience: 
Health sector
Update on Districts of Workforce Shortage (DWS) for specialist review

Key proposed changes to the DWS include:

  • adding new specialty groups to the policy
  • moving the DWS system to the Modified Monash Model (MMM) system to align with other health workforce programs
  • maintaining the existing service test for MM2 areas
  • using the larger Statistical Area SA4 catchment size (rather than SA3) to better reflect where patients travel for specialist services.

These changes take account of the feedback of more than 21 key stakeholders.

The Distribution Working Group (DWG) is leading this review work, which includes looking at:

  • geographical classifications
  • distribution mechanisms
  • catchment sizes and areas.

The DWG has considered all of the stakeholder feedback, and agreed to update the DWS in the usual way on 1 July 2021. It also recommended:

  • updating the DWS method and adopting the new principles from 1 January 2022 to give those affected time to adjust
  • giving locations that lose their eligibility on 1 January 2022 a 6-month grace period, with the change scheduled to take effect on 1 July 2022.

This ‘no disadvantage clause’ will give extra time for practices to prepare and adjust their approach to recruitment, as required.

The DWG will consult further with key stakeholders in mid-2021. 

See how we currently assess DWS status.