INCENTIVES FOR RURAL DOCTORS
INCENTIVES to attract more doctors to Childers will be boosted under Federal Government changes to the GP Rural Incentives Program.
The classification system that controls how incentives are distributed under the program will be updated to a new model from July this year, which recognises town size and remoteness.
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.
Under the current system, doctors practising in Childers may be eligible for a maximum of up to $12,000 per year – based on the year level 5 payments.
Under the new system, doctors practising in Childers may be eligible for incentives up to a maximum of $23,000 per year based on the year level five payments and service level.
A spokesman for Assistant Health Minister Fiona Nash told the Isis Town and Country this would further increase the supply of doctors to smaller communities because doctors seeking subsidies would need to base themselves in a more rural location – such as the Isis region.
“The Coalition has also increased training places from 1200 to 1500 and 50% of those are in rural areas,” he said.
“The Coalition continues to monitor the situation and consider other measures to attract more doctors to live in rural, regional and remote Australia.”
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.”
Wide Bay Hospital and Health Service chief operating officer Debbie Carroll said any help to enable GPs to start practice in small rural towns would be viewed positively.