Thirty-nine regional communities in South Australia will receive greater incentives to attract GPs following an overhaul of the Australian Government’s GP Rural Incentives Program (GPRIP).
Senator for South Australia Anne Ruston said the changes to the program would enable smaller regional communities to more easily attract and retain GPs.
"This is a very welcome development," Senator Ruston said. "Under the old system introduced in 2010, around $50 million per year was being used to attract doctors to larger regional cities.
"Under the new system, which begins from 1 July 2015, this money will now be used to attract doctors to smaller regional, rural and remote communities.
"Bigger incentive payments will go to doctors who choose to work in the communities with the greatest need for their services.
"Historically it has always been a struggle for smaller regional communities in South Australia to attract and retain GPs.
"I congratulate Assistant Minister for Health the Hon Fiona Nash, and the independent panel of experts which recommended the changes, on this important overhaul which is much fairer to smaller regional communities."
Other changes to the program include:
- the new GP rural incentive payment will not be available to doctors working in the 14 large regional cities with a population greater than 50,000;
- the highest incentive payment for working in remote Australia will rise from $47,000 per year to $60,000 per year;
- the maximum incentive to work in a regional town with a population less than 5000 will rise from $18,000 to $23,000;
- doctors can take leave from a rural practice for up to five years with no loss of incentive status upon their return; and
- doctors must stay in a rural or regional area for two years before they receive the incentive (up from six months), while doctors in remote areas must stay one year.
South Australian communities to benefit from the overhauled GPRIP include:
- Tailem Bend
- Crystal Brook
- Kingston SE
- Port Lincoln
- Roxby Downs
- Streaky Bay
- Tumby Bay
- Coober Pedy