The State Government will remove some red tape to help ease a critical doctor shortage that recently saw regional shires offer $1 million for a GP. The WA Government was due to announce on Friday changes to rules that regulate the recruitment of GPs by local governments. Local councils in regional WA play a crucial part in attracting doctors, such as through housing and other subsidies. The extreme difficulty of keeping doctors in country areas was highlighted when The West revealed in January that a Wheatbelt town about 160km east of Perth was offering a $1M salary for a doctor to move there. Shire of Quairading president Peter Smith said the council was forced to act due to the “critical need”. “If we don’t have a doctor, we won’t have a medical clinic, then we won’t have a hospital, we won’t have a chemist and so the demise will begin,” he said. Under amendments to procurement requirements that will take into effect on Saturday, local governments will no longer have to invite public tenders to vary or extend a regional medical service contract over $250,000. But they will still have to go through the lengthy open tender process when first hiring a GP or procuring medical services. Local Government Minister John Carey said he had heard firsthand from local councils about the difficulty in retaining GPs due to the cumbersome retender process. “These amendments to the regulations will streamline the contracting process, reducing an unnecessary burden on the local governments and making it easier for them to retain crucial medical services for their communities,” Mr Carey said. “I want to acknowledge a number of stakeholders including relevant local governments and WALGA for their input through the working group. “In particular, the information and feedback provided by individual councils has been critical to identifying how best we could progress effective reforms.” The latest Report on Government Services found WA had the lowest availability of GPs in regional and very remote areas per capita in Australia. Health Minister Amber-Jade Sanderson said primary care was mostly a federal government responsibility but the regulatory changes were an example of the state doing everything it could to assist.