New Rural Advanced Skills funding streams introduced by the Albanese Government within the Workforce Incentives Program have been welcomed by a number of GP groups.
Rural generalists provide significant services, including the training of the future medical and allied workforce, skills maintenance, additional administration and compliance as well as managing clinical responsibilities. Between $4,000 and $10,500 per year is available to doctors providing these advanced skills services, with a separate payment of $4,000 to $10,500 per year also available to eligible doctors providing emergency care. Doctors may be eligible for both payments, up to an additional $21,000 a year for working in rural communities.
RACGP President Dr Nicole Higgins said access to GPs is essential for people living in small towns and more remote settings.
“A well-staffed general practice is one of the essential elements of a small town. Without a GP, it’s hard to keep a community healthy and a town viable,” she said.
“Making the decision to move to a small community, and the increased expense of practice further from the city, can push GPs to work closer to cities. Improving incentives for GPs and rural generalists to work in outer regional, rural, and remote communities can be the difference between a community thriving with a GP, or not.
“General practices in small towns and rural communities will need more support, particularly in cutting red tape for doctors who received their medical training overseas and improving support so GPs who join these communities are helped to settle and build lives there.
“The RACGP has committed to making that journey as easy as possible while maintaining Australia’s strong medical standards, and we urge the government to do the same,” Dr Higgins said.
“The Rural Advanced Skills training program is one necessary component to address the support needed by rural generalist doctors across the country to help them gain the advanced skills they need to work in rural and remote communities,” said the National Rural Health Alliance Chief Executive Susi Tegen.
“We acknowledge the work of the Minister for Health and Aged Care, the Australian College of Rural and Remote Medicine (ACRRM) and the Royal Australian College of General Practice (RACGP) who have been working together to develop a National Rural Generalist Pathway and a strong national rural generalist workforce, which is crucial for multidisciplinary rural health care provision.
“We invite eligible rural generalists with advanced skills in mental health, obstetrics, surgery, emergency medicine, First Nations health and anaesthetics to take advantage of the new Workforce Incentives Program which has incentives up to $21,000 a year,” Ms Tegen said.
“We cannot continue to see the rural doctor workforce decline and these incentives are just one component of changes that are necessary to reverse the trend. The 30 per cent of Australia’s population that lives and works in rural, remote and regional areas deserve the same health and medical access that their urban counterparts enjoy,” Ms Tegen concluded.
For more information on eligibility and to apply for the new payment, visit the Department of Health and Aged Care website.
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