Rural health services receive a boost

JUSTINE DAVIES
28 May 2015
Some 450 rural and regional towns will receive greater incentives to attract GPs from July 1, under changes announced in late May 2015 by Assistant Minister for Health Fiona Nash. Speaking at the National Rural Health conference in Darwin, Minister Nash announced an overhauled and much fairer GP Rural Incentives Program (GPRIP) which means smaller rural communities would be able to more easily attract and retain GPs.

Rural health services receive a boost

The new GPRIP system will deliver a fairer system for smaller towns; redirecting money to attract more doctors to smaller towns that have genuine difficulty attracting and retaining doctors,” Minister Nash said. “It makes more sense to use that money to attract doctors to where the greatest shortages are – small rural and remote communities, not big regional cities.”

The highest incentive paid to work in remote Australia will jump from $47,000 a year to $60,000 a year. The maximum incentive to work in a town of less than 5000 in regional Australia will increase from $18,000 to $23,000.

Other changes include:

  • Doctors will be able to take leave from a rural practice for up to five years with no loss of incentive status on their return;
  • Doctors will need to stay in a rural or regional area longer – two years up from the current six months – before they receive the incentive.
  • Doctors in remote areas will receive incentive payments after a year.
  • The new incentive arrangements will start from 1 July 2015.

In Federal Budget news, the Royal Flying Doctor Service will also receive a budget boost, with an additional $20 million dollars over the next two years.

“There are many Australians who are alive today because of the RFDS. The RFDS is part of the Australian identity,” said Senator Nash. “We know regional and rural areas face extra barriers to accessing health services and our aim is to break down those barriers.”

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