Government luring GPs to the bush
INCENTIVES to attract and keep doctors in rural and remote areas have been welcomed by Federal Page MP Janelle Saffin.
The Federal Government’s package began yesterday and it is anticipated they will help retain doctors in the local area.
Ms Saffin said the Government had changed the classification for rural and remote areas and that Lismore, Alstonville, Ballina, Wardell and Wollongbar were now included in the list of areas that could offer incentives to attract and keep GPs.
“I lobbied for these local centres to be included, and worked with local doctor Andrew Binns to push for these changes, which have now been delivered,” Ms Saffin said.
“This means that all of the Page electorate is now eligible to offer incentives to attract and keep GPs.
“The changed classification was long overdue, as the previous government based the incentive system on population figures from 1991.
“The Federal Government is investing a total of $134.4 million to encourage doctors to relocate and stay in rural areas as part of the Rural Health Workforce Strategy.”
Significant changes include:
- The incentives apply to fully-trained GPs, where previously it was only registrars.
- Relocation grants of $15,000 to $30,000 for city doctors to move to our area.
- Retention grants that increase for every year the doctor stays in the area.
- HECS reimbursement scheme.
- Incentives to attract overseas-trained doctors.
- Under the Rural Health Workforce Strategy, the incentives are scaled to provide the greatest rewards to those doctors willing to work in the most remote locations.
Ms Saffin said an important part of the strategy was the locum program of incentive and training packages to support city doctors doing locums for doctors in country areas, so that country doctors could have adequate rest and professional development.
“These new incentivesbenefit all residents of Page by encouraging more doctors to move here, as well as keeping local GPs in the area,” she said.