More doctors in areas of need
Australians living in outer metropolitan areas now have better access to doctors as a result of a relocation program by the Australian Government.
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14 January 2004
More doctors in areas of needAustralians living in outer metropolitan areas now have better access to doctors as a result of a relocation program by the Australian Government.
During the past year, 115 doctors have agreed to relocate to areas where doctors are in short supply.
Under one part of the program More Doctors for Outer Metropolitan Areas, doctors can apply for grants of up to $30 000 to establish a new practice, or up to $20 000 to join an existing practice in an area of doctor shortage.
When the program was announced in January 2003, the government was hoping to get 150 doctors to relocate to areas of greatest need over a four-year period. Due, it seems, to the relocation grants, this target has almost been reached within the first year.
The relocation incentive grant was to have been available until the end of 2003. However, because GPs and specialists have responded so enthusiastically to the program, the government has decided to extend the grant scheme for a further 12 months.
The government will spend $1.6 million this year on grants to attract an additional 80 doctors to set up new practices in areas of greatest need.
The expansion of the program will give more communities the opportunity to benefit from the program.
The Department of Health and Ageing has been working closely with the Divisions of General Practice to enhance the program and make it more flexible and responsive to areas of high need.
In addition, the program is also being extended to cover more areas in all state capitals, including some inner suburbs which have a shortage of doctors.
MedicarePlus contains a series of further measures to increase the medical workforce in outer urban areas (see attachment).
More information on More Doctors for Outer Metropolitan Areas is available by contacting 1800 727 899.
For more information call Mr Abbott's office on ph 02 6277 7220.
AttachmentMedicarePlus will build on the success of the 'More Doctors for Outer Metropolitan Areas' relocation program through measures to increase the medical workforce in outer urban areas:
- Initiatives to attract and retain overseas trained doctors, many of whom will work in areas where doctors are in short supply. Cost: $432.5 million.
- Higher Medicare rebates for GPs who were practising before vocational registration was introduced in 1996 and did not take up registration, who move to areas of doctor shortage. Cost: $22.4 million.
- Short-term placements for medical graduates to work as junior doctors with GPs in outer urban or rural areas. Cost: $70.3 million.
- Grants for general practices in outer urban areas to employ GP practice nurses, reducing the burden on doctors. Cost: $64.2 million.
- Contracts binding 234 medical students each year to work in areas of workforce shortage - outer urban or rural - after they graduate. Cost: $42.1 million.
- Increase of 150 a year in the number of places in GP training programs and support for general practices and GP supervisors. Cost: $200.6 million.