THE Hunter's federal representatives say the region's doctor crisis has not gone unnoticed, and strategies are in place but will take time.
Charlton MP Greg Combet blamed 12 years of "poor workforce planning" by the former Howard government for a national shortage of general practitioners.
"The Rudd Government is taking steps to turn this situation around and here in the Hunter there has been an increase in the number of GP training places this year," Mr Combet said.
GP super clinics, located at Morisset and Port Stephens, were part of the solution, he said.
The member for Shortland Jill Hall said she had long campaigned for more doctors to be trained, and had convened a working group to address shortages in the worst affected areas of her electorate, such as Lake Haven.
She was also in the process of preparing a proposal for a super clinic, Ms Hall said this week.
"The current Minister for Health . . . recognises that the shortage is a long-term problem requiring a long-term and standing solution," she said.
"This in stark contrast to the performance of the Howard government."
The Federal Health Department has failed to answer questions put to it by The Herald on issues such as the Hunter's 40 per cent higher than average ratio of general practitioners to residents.
A series of questions was first put to the department on November 11, then on November 24, and again on Thursday, but have gone unanswered.
Paterson MP Bob Baldwin said more action was needed from Prime Minister Kevin Rudd.
"If the Rudd Labor Government cannot provide adequate medical services for the nation, then it has failed the people who believed in Kevin Rudd's promises to fix our ailing health system," he said.
Meanwhile, Mr Baldwin said he was working to remove barriers for New Zealand doctors who could not provide services that attract Medicare benefits for a decade after they become a doctor and permanent Australian resident or citizen.
New legislation would mean they were no longer considered overseas trained, and would not be subject to the 10-year moratorium, enabling them to practise in areas of need, he said.
"I hope it will encourage medical professionals to practise in my electorate of Paterson," he said.
Hunter MP Joel Fitzgibbon said the real answer was getting more doctors into the region, and recommendations coming out of the Federal Government's Health and Hospitals Reform Commission would address some of the issues.
A new indexing system through which incentives would be offered to doctors to work in areas of need was a "half success", he said, and would encourage doctors to work in places like Cessnock.
"The best way to get doctors practising in regional areas is to draw young students from those areas," he said.
Newcastle MP Sharon Grierson said it would take time to address previous cuts in training places, but super clinics helped ease shortages, along with increased numbers of practice nurses.