Lur­ing ru­ral doc­tors

Central and North Burnett Times - - NEWS - By Daniel Bur­don APN News­desk

Dr Shaun Rudd They can’t be on call 24 hours a day, and we need more ru­ral train­ing places...

IN­CEN­TIVES to at­tract more doc­tors to North Bur­nett towns will be boosted, with big­ger cen­tres like Bund­aberg miss­ing out un­der changes to the pay­ment sys­tem.

The clas­si­fi­ca­tion sys­tem that con­trols how in­cen­tives are dis­trib­uted un­der the GP Ru­ral In­cen­tives Pro­gram will be up­dated to a new model from July this year.

About 450 small ru­ral towns will get more in­cen­tives for doc­tors, with $50 mil­lion di­verted from 14 larger re­gional cen­tres that will no longer qual­ify.

Pay­ments will go to doc­tors once they have worked in ru­ral or re­mote towns for two years, com­pared with six months pre­vi­ously, un­der a tiered sys­tem.

It is un­der­stood pay­ments will rise from $4500 for the sec­ond year to up to $12,000, for towns with a pop­u­la­tion be­tween 15,000 and 50,000 peo­ple.

Those pay­ments are un­der­stood to rise with both re­mote­ness of the town and the smaller pop­u­la­tion un­der the re­forms.

Doc­tors choos­ing to work in Monto and Gayn­dah will get about a $500 a year boost to pay­ments but Bund­aberg, as one of sev­eral cities with a pop­u­la­tion over 50,000, will lose the in­cen­tives.

AMA Queens­land pres­i­dent Dr Shaun Rudd said the change would mean in­cen­tives were dis­trib­uted more fairly to “truly ru­ral and re­mote ar­eas”.

But he said in­cen­tives were “only part of the story” and GPs work­ing in ru­ral ar­eas needed a more re­al­is­tic and flex­i­ble work­ing en­vi­ron­ment.

“They can’t be on call 24 hours a day and we need more ru­ral train­ing places to help peo­ple stay longer or re­turn to the bush and ob­vi­ously you need to help sup­port their fam­i­lies,” Dr Rudd said.

“We also need more su­per­vi­sion, es­pe­cially for younger doc­tors, so they don’t feel like they’re go­ing out there with no sup­port.”

Dr Rudd said there were “win­ners and losers” in all re­forms but it made sense to “use all the re­sources we have to get them (GPs) in ru­ral com­mu­ni­ties”.

Af­ter years of cam­paign­ing for the change to the in­cen­tives sys­tem, the Ru­ral Doc­tors As­so­ci­a­tion has backed the Ab­bott Gov­ern­ment move, but says there is still much to be done to im­prove the ru­ral health work­force.

RDAA pres­i­dent Pro­fes­sor Den­nis Pashen said the new sys­tem would re­place the older sys­tem that did not dif­fer­en­ti­ate be­tween big re­gional cities and smaller ru­ral towns.

The change comes from a ru­ral health re­view.

Prof Pashen said he hoped other re­view rec­om­men­da­tions would be taken up, in­clud­ing re­in­stat­ing the Pre­vo­ca­tional GP Place­ments Pro­gram that was cut in last year’s Fed­eral Bud­get.

“We re­main dis­ap­pointed that there is cur­rently no pre-vo­ca­tional pro­gram avail­able for ju­nior doc­tors to sam­ple gen­eral prac­tice and par­tic­u­larly ru­ral gen­eral prac­tice.”

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