March 21, 2022

Dhauwurd-Wurrung Elderly and Community Health Service have a new GP onsite helping to care for local patients thanks to a Morrison Government pilot scheme that supports GPs in rural and remote areas with wage funding and mentoring while they gain their general practice qualification.

Member for Wannon, Dan Tehan said the Morrison Government’s Extended Targeted Recruitment Pilot, part of the Remote Vocational Training Scheme (RVTS), provided up to $501,000 over the course of each doctor’s training to make the location more appealing to young doctors seeking a fulfilling career as a rural or remote GP.

“The aim of the pilot is testing the success of additional income support to encourage more young doctors to discover rural and remote GP work, and also ensure they have adequate support and distance mentoring and education as they get their medical college fellowship,” Mr Tehan said.

Regional Health Minister and former regional doctor, Dr David Gillespie said it was important that junior doctors were adequately supported to work rurally, and without this scheme, even more of these doctors would be holed up in cities undertaking this significant part of their training.

“This is a win-win for patients in Portland and the local medical clinic,” Mr Tehan said.

Minister for Health and Aged Care, Greg Hunt, said the RVTS is going from strength to strength in providing better access to doctors in the bush.

“To date, it has provided training to more than 400 doctors to over 300 rural and remote communities. Overall, 90 per cent of participants who have completed the program have attained GP fellowship qualifications,” Minister Hunt said.

“The RVTS has also supported doctors working in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, with more than 50 doctors enrolled in Aboriginal medical services since 2014. These doctors are providing primary care services in more than 40 Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services across the country.

“The past success of the program is why the Morrison Government is investing an additional $20.9 million to extend a GP training program that is providing more doctors to rural and remote areas in Australia.”

This additional funding builds on $5 million previously provided by the Morrison Government for the RVTS extended targeted recruitment pilot, which is providing income support for 10 doctors starting their training in 2021 and 2022.

“This additional funding will enable the scheme to be extended for a further three years, enabling doctors to gain their specialist qualification in general practice – while living and working in a rural or remote area,” Minister Hunt said.

Regional Health Minister, Dr David Gillespie said the scheme focuses on remote GP training in small and isolated communities to help improve the recruitment pipeline for a high quality traditional primary care workforce.

Dr Gillespie said the RVTS is a key initiative in bridging the city-country divide in providing health services, by addressing GP workforce shortages in areas of need of more GPs.

“There can be issues in rural areas in having sufficient patient throughput under a fee-for-service model – typical of general practice – to generate enough income to operate a viable practice while undertaking GP training,” Dr Gillespie said.

“Data shows a decline in the attractiveness of rural GP work for new medical graduates. The extended pilot supports the Morrison Government’s coordinated efforts to explore innovative employment models to attract more GP trainees to rural and remote areas.”

The pilot builds on the policy commitments of the Stronger Rural Health Strategy and will inform longer-term reform options including the development of the Government’s Primary Health Care 10 Year Plan.

Labor has no plans to bring more GPs into regional, rural, and remote rural communities. In fact, even the Rural Doctors Association of Australia said that Labor’s most recent distribution announcement “will only result in worse outcomes for rural and remote communities.”

Media contact | Cate Mercer-Grant 0408 564 232