A doctor shortage has the chief executive officer of a regional Victorian hospital concerned about the future.
Chris Giles, the head of Portland District Health, said the hospital had enough staff to man its services, but the recruitment process had been challenging and there was a lack of GPs in the city.
"We've met our requirements in relation to junior and senior staff," Ms Giles said. "However, all it takes is for one person to leave and then our services are at risk."
Ms Giles said a lack of doctors was an issue across the world.
She said there were a number of factors that had led to Portland's shortage over the past few years.
Ms Giles said a number of long-standing doctors were retiring or reducing their workload, Australia has an ageing population, more doctors choose to work in cities, while states such as Queensland and NSW often offer higher rates of pay than in Victoria.
The coronavirus has added to the problem, she said.
Ms Giles said people considering relocating usually wanted to spend a week or two in the community to see if it was a good fit, but this was made difficult during the pandemic.
"We would offer them a couple of weeks locum here or there but that hasn't been very easy to achieve," she said.
Ms Giles said the lack of GPs also put extra strain on the hospital.
"If people can't get into a GP and look after their health needs, their issue becomes an acute issue," Ms Giles said.
She said people who couldn't get an appointment in Portland or Heywood were often forced to travel to Hamilton or Warrnambool to see a doctor.
Ms Giles said a lack of available housing in the city, the increasing cost of rent and lengthy waits for a house to be built were also factors in the shortage.
She said the hospital was exploring a number of options to secure more staff, including a 12-month internship program for Deakin University students and aged care practitioners supporting doctors.
"It's really tough to fill these jobs at the moment," Ms Giles said.