NACCHO Health News Alert: Incentive scheme for bush doctors failing, funds to be redirected

 

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In a Robin Hood style overhaul of the botched $113 million General Practice Rural Incentive Payment Scheme, doctors in 14 large towns like Cairns will be stripped of subsidies.

The money saved from enticing doctors to large coastal towns will instead be put towards much larger subsidies to attract doctors to tiny towns like Gundagai, Kingaroy, Echuca and Northam.

From Sue Dunlevy National Health Reporter From: News Corp Australia Network (full details below)

 

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A Government incentive scheme to try to lure more doctors to the bush is falling short of the mark, with too much money going towards large regional centres and not enough to smaller towns, .

The retargeted money does not include a target for bolstering health services in Indigenous communities, but Senator Nash said she wanted to see more Aboriginal health workers in place.

She said that would be a focus for future policy development.

Assistant Health Minister Fiona Nash says the current incentive scheme is not luring doctors to small towns. (Credit: ABC)

Incentive scheme for bush doctors failing, funds to be redirected, Assistant Health Minister Fiona Nash says in Radio Australia Report

A Government incentive scheme to try to lure more doctors to the bush is falling short of the mark, with too much money going towards large regional centres and not enough to smaller towns, the Assistant Health Minister Fiona Nash says.

Rural and remote towns with fewer than 50,000 people will benefit from $50 million being diverted from the General Practice Rural Incentive Payment Scheme, which originally targeted larger coastal cities like Cairns and Townsville, according to Senator Nash.

Doctors in the rural and remote areas will receive increased subsidy payments from July this year.

Senator Nash said the program would help reduce the gap between rural Australia and the cities.

She said 450 rural towns would benefit from the revised scheme.

“There’s an unfair distribution of the resources,” she said.

“We’re currently seeing funding go to doctors who have chosen to practice in large regional centres, so towns over 50,000 population.

“So doctors moving to those areas will no longer be able to receive the incentive payments.”

Senator Nash said the change would help attract doctors to smaller centres that needed them.

“We were having the same payments going to doctors in large towns as to doctors in the smaller towns. [This will get] the right doctors, with the right skills to the right places.”

Australian Medical Association president Brian Owler said the plan was a step in the right direction.

“We’ve known for some time that the geographical locations and rules around these payments had a lot of discrepancies in them and the new model is certainly an improved model,” he said.

“Our main objective is to make sure that we don’t see the Rural Incentive Payment changes disadvantage important services and that we make sure that we maintain those services where they are needed in rural communities.

“I’m sure this will go a long way towards improving things, but obviously there’s no one-size-fits-all for this sort of problem.”

The retargeted money does not include a target for bolstering health services in Indigenous communities, but Senator Nash said she wanted to see more Aboriginal health workers in place.

She said that would be a focus for future policy development.

Ms Nash made the announcement ahead of attending the 13th national remote health conference in Darwin

 

Subsidies to attract doctors to tiny towns nearly double

Sue Dunlevy National Health Reporter From: News Corp Australia Network

EXCLUSIVE

Small rural towns will attract subsidies of up to $60,000 to attract and keep doctors in a massive win from News Corp Australia’s Health the Bush campaign.

In a Robin Hood style overhaul of the botched $113 million General Practice Rural Incentive Payment Scheme, doctors in 14 large towns like Cairns will be stripped of subsidies.

The money saved from enticing doctors to large coastal towns will instead be put towards much larger subsidies to attract doctors to tiny towns like Gundagai, Kingaroy, Echuca and Northam.

Under a revamp of the scheme to be announced by Assistant Minister for Health Fiona Nash on Sunday, subsidies for towns with a population of less than 5,000 will jump by between $4,000 and $13,000 a year.

Under the old scheme, the maximum subsidy available to a doctor working in a very remote area for five years was $47,000. That will jump to $60,000 after the new scheme begins in July.

Currently doctors only have to work in a town for six months to begin receiving subsidies; now, they will have to spend at least two years before the allowance flows.

The increases for 450 towns were a key demand in News Corp Australia’s Health the Bush campaign aimed at improving poor health systems in the bush that see rural residents die three years earlier than those in the city.

STATE BY STATE

Doctors in the tiny town of Gundagai NSW will see their subsidies nearly double from $12,000 to $23,000 after they serve for five years.

Doctors in the tiny town of Rutherglen Victoria will see their subsidies nearly double from $12,000 to $23,000 after they serve for five years.

Doctors in the tiny town of Gleneagle in Queensland will see their subsidies increase from $12,000 to $18,000 after five years service.

Doctors in Ceduna, South Australia will see their subsidies increase from $47,000 to $60,000 after five years service.

Doctors in Strahan Tasmania will see their subsidies increase from $27,000 to $35,000 after five years service.

Doctors in the tiny town of Northam in Queensland will see their subsidies increase from $12,000 to $18,000 after five years service.

REVAMPED SCHEME

Under the existing system introduced by the previous Labor Government in 2010, 5706 doctors got taxpayer subsidies to move to towns with a population over 50,000.

Some $50 million was being used to pay incentives for doctors to live in very large regional cities, including Townsville (population 175,000) and Cairns (population 145,000).

They received the same $30,000 relocation grant and $18,000-a-year retention incentive as doctors in Hay and Deniliquin in NSW, Ingham and Tully in Queensland and Warnertown in South Australia.

Doctors who relocated to Hobart (population 106,153) and Launceston got the same $15,000 relocation grant and $12,000 a year retention grant as doctors who moved to Tumut in NSW (population 6,000) or Benalla in Victoria (population 9,328).

“The new GPRIP system has redirected money to attract more doctors to rural areas 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.

“We’ve taken that money which was being used to attract doctors to Cairns and Townsville and we’re using it to get doctors to towns like Cowra and Cobram.

More than 100 towns will benefit from increased incentive payments to attract doctors.

Towns that will lose access to any subsidies under the scheme include Albury, Darwin, Cairns, Hervey Bay, Townsville, Hobart, Mackay, Rockhampton, Ballarat and Bunbury.

The new GP rural incentive payment will not be available to doctors working in large regional cities with a population of more than 50,000

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