Federal government data shows there is no doctor shortage in Ballarat - but I am far from convinced this is news to celebrate.
Instead it is time we discussed what this means for our city's future.
A Department of Health spokesperson told The Courier on Thursday the growth in general practitioner services in Ballarat is above the national average.
The region has not been identified as a priority area of support.
This may come as a shock to many who have shared their concerns about accessibility to general practitioners in Ballarat.
It was certainly a shock to me after hearing these stories.
After pondering it more, I now feel a little concerned.
Throughout the past few months we have told stories of residents' troubling experiences accessing health care in Ballarat.
In January I was told more than 200 people a day were being turned away from a walk-in medical clinic in Ballarat due to shortage of doctors on staff.
Many of these patients who needed same-day medical help presented to the hospital emergency department feeling they had no where left to turn.
Ballarat Health Service data shows the Base Hospital emergency department experienced an 8.4 per cent increase in patients in December 2018 compared to December 2017.
The hospital's acting chief executive partly attributed the increase to a shortage of general practitioners.
One patient shared her experience waiting eight hours with a torn retina before seeing a doctor to then be told she needed urgent surgery or risked losing her sight.
Others have waited more than three hours at a walk-in clinic to see a doctor, only to be told there was no doctor available to help them.
Many of us have experienced such difficulty ourselves when trying to book a general practitioner for a same-day or sometimes even same-week appointment
Many of us have been told by multiple clinics they were not able to accept new patients.
Our Federal MP and Opposition Health Minister Catherine King has been vocal about her concerns. She wrote a letter expressing them to Health Minister Greg Hunt last month.
The response? Ballarat is not somewhere the Department of Health needs to be concerned about.
A department spokesperson said the Rural Workforce Agency Victoria recently completed a Health Workforce Needs Assessment which identified priority towns for support in 2019.
Ballarat was not identified as a priority area for support.
"Should circumstances change in Ballarat, the RWAV would support practices with recruitment and retention activities," the spokesperson said.
Federal government data indicates general practice in Ballarat is doing better than the rest of the country.
If something doesn't change to make it easier to attract medical practitioners to regional and rural areas now I am afraid we will forever be playing catch-up.Rochelle Kirkham
Mr Hunt advised Ms King in his response to her letter that access to general practice services in Ballarat and surrounds show a substantial improvement
Data shows a growth in general practice services of 24.3 per cent in Ballarat, compared with 20.2 per cent nationally.
At first this statistic shocked me, after writing so many reports based on experiences of patients and health care leaders that Ballarat had a doctor shortage.
Now reading it makes me feel sad.
Sad for the communities in rural and regional Australia that suffer poor health outcomes from a shortage of doctors.
But when I think about what this statistic means for our city, I feel concerned and a little alarmed.
What does this federal government understanding of Ballarat's health care services mean for our city with a population that is expected to more than double from 100,000 to 200,000 by 2050?
What does this 'nothing is wrong here' attitude mean for our general practices that are having to advertise vacant positions for more than one year before they can secure a doctor on their team?
I understand there are many Australian communities that do deserve to be considered a priority area more than Ballarat. In comparison to many other communities, we are lucky.
But if something doesn't change to make it easier to attract medical practitioners to regional and rural areas now I am afraid we will forever be playing catch-up.
And we will keep having to tell the stories of suffering patients.
And surrounding communities that are also expected to rapidly grow will feel the pressure too.
I want Ballarat to be one step ahead of our problems. In fact I think we need to be to achieve the vision of how we want to live.
As Committee for Ballarat's chief executive Melanie Robertson says, we need to author our future and make sure our growth is sustainable.
We want growth in services to match growth in population to maintain community well-being and the quality of life we all love.
We need proactive rather than reactive thinking and a preventative approach to health care.
Why should it take a growing city to fall below a national average to be noticed and supported? By that time our people and that of surrounding areas will be suffering a higher risk of poor health outcomes.
The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners advocates for increased investment in general practice.
The body notes if general practice can not keep up with the amount of patients who need preventative, acute and chronic care, our hospitals will take the hit.
So wouldn't it be cheaper for government to invest in prevention?
I must make it clear I am by no means an expert in health or the government processes behind it.
But as a journalist I have heard enough stories from members of our community and from our health experts to know we have a problem - a problem that needs to be dealt with now before it is amplified by a population that could grow at a rapid rate.
On the cusp of rapid growth (or some may say we are already at the crux of it), now is our chance to shape our city.
In the meantime we can thank our hard-working general practitioners and health professionals who are no doubt feeling this pressure too.