THE Northern Territory could lose one-third of its doctors because of the ever-increasing heat, according to a new study ringing alarm bells for all regional areas.
Australian National University researchers investigating the impact of climate change on population migration surveyed registered practising medical professionals in the NT.
They found 19 per cent of doctors were likely to leave the NT as a result of a climate warming, and a further 14.9 per cent were considering leaving due to the increasing temperatures.
Researchers also found 85 per cent of doctors believe climate change was already impacting the health of patients in the area.
In December 2019 the NT's temperature was almost four degrees above the long-term average, and in 2019 the NT's third-largest town, Katherine, recorded 54 days above 40 degrees.
Having lived through many hot summers, Alice Springs-based doctor and ANU lecturer Simon Quilty has lived through many hot summers in the NT.
He said climate change was already having deadly consequences to human health - and the impacts wouldn't be limited to the NT.
"Climate change could decimate our rural health workforce," Dr Quilty said.
"Climate change is the biggest threat to health; not only does heat itself kill, but it worsens existing healthcare inequity in places most vulnerable to extreme heat."
Dr Quilty said the trend would "almost certainly" extend to other in-demand professions such as nurses, teachers and first responders.
"We all know how devastating it is not to have a doctor, but it can be just as devastating not to have a mechanic," he said.
"I've lived in the Northern Territory for a long time. The conversations around the dinner table of professionals are all questioning the viability of staying in a place that is already very hot and will get hotter in time."
The ANU study suggested climate change was a driver of migration within and between countries, and the lack of the medical professionals in increasingly hot zones would eventually lead to significant health workforce shortages.
"People are talking with their feet," Dr Quilty said.
"Human migration driven by climate change will just leave behind people who are already vulnerable."
The story Docs may leave the bush in droves due to climate-change driven heat first appeared on Farm Online.