Doctor shortages now mapped online

RESIDENTS of towns in rural and regional Australia can now search online to find out how big the doctor shortage is, with government maps now updated.

The District of Workforce Shortage maps were updated and launched on Monday, as part of an "overhaul" of the system, Assistant Health Minister Fiona Nash said.

Senator Nash said the government had "heard the concerns" about the maps and the new system more accurately identified those areas where shortages existed.

The maps use the latest population and Medicare data, replacing data from 2004, while government determinations on what regions had a shortage would happen annually from now.

Senator Nash said the change to make such determinations annual instead of quarterly would overcome discrepancies in regions where workers moved with agricultural seasons.