GPs lose fi­nan­cial lure to re­gions

Townsville Bulletin - - NEWS - CHAR­LIE PEEL char­lie. peel@ news. com. au

DOC­TORS in Townsville and Mackay will no longer be given a spe­cial in­cen­tive pay­ment to come and work in the city.

Re­gional cities with pop­u­la­tions over 50,000 are no longer el­i­gi­ble for the pay­ment af­ter the Fed­eral Govern­ment’s over­haul of the Gen­eral Prac­tice Ru­ral In­cen­tives Pro­gram came into ef­fect on July 1.

Un­der the old sys­tem, $ 50 mil­lion a year was paid for doc­tors to live in 14 large re­gional cities, in­clud­ing Townsville, Mackay and Cairns.

While that will no longer be the case, doc­tors work­ing in smaller towns will have their in­cen­tive pay­ment in­creased. James Cook Univer­sity Med­i­cal Ed­u­ca­tion di­rec­tor Dr Tarun Sen Gupta said while Townsville had prob­lems at­tract­ing med­i­cal pro­fes­sion­als, it was tougher in ru­ral towns.

“You can cer­tainly say re­gional Queens­land doesn’t have as strong a work­force as metro cities,” he said.

“But there are lim­ited re­sources that need to be used where they are most needed – that is in the more re­mote and ru­ral towns.

“With the med­i­cal school at JCU, we now have grad­u­ates stay­ing in the north and a steady, home­grown work­force sup­ply that wasn’t around 10 years ago.”

Dr Sen Gupta said more could be done to en­cour­age lo­cal grad­u­ates to prac­tise medicine lo­cally by en­sur­ing they had a pipe­line to ac­cess train­ing places for all spe­cial­ties.

The Aus­tralian Med­i­cal As­so­ci­a­tion said the previous clas­si­fi­ca­tion sys­tem was crit­i­cised as be­ing poorly tar­geted and the new sys­tem was flawed, too.

“The Govern­ment has … ig­nored our ad­vice to ( con­tinue to sup­port) those GPs who were pre­vi­ously el­i­gi­ble for in­cen­tives but who no longer qual­ify un­der the new ar­range­ments,” a spokesman said.

As­sis­tant Min­is­ter for Health Sen­a­tor Fiona Nash said the high­est in­cen­tive paid to a doc­tor to work in re­mote Aus­tralia jumped from $ 47,000 a year to $ 60,000 a year, while those in towns with up to 15,000 peo­ple can re­ceive up to $ 23,000.

“We’ve over­hauled the sys­tem so the big­gest in­cen­tives go the smallest and most re­mote towns, to help them at­tract the doc­tors they need,” Min­is­ter Nash said.

“Aus­tralia’s smallest ru­ral towns have al­ways strug­gled to at­tract doc­tors.”

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.