The Hon. Greg Hunt MP
Minister for Health and Aged Care
The Hon. Dr David Gillespie MP
Minister for Regional Health
Minister Assisting the Minister for Trade and Investment
Deputy Leader of the House
13 April 2022
Tennant Creek and Mutitjulu listed as targeted GP recruitment locations
Tennant Creek and Mutitjulu are now more appealing locations to work for young doctors after the communities became a targeted recruitment locations under a Morrison-Joyce Government pilot scheme that provides wage support and supports doctors to gain their GP qualification while living in a rural or remote area.
The addition of Tennant Creek and Mutitjulu to the Remote Vocational Training Scheme (RVTS) Extended Targeted Recruitment Pilot location list means doctors interested in rural and remote general practice will receive income support while working at local clinics and training towards their formal GP qualification.
The pilot scheme provides more than $500,000 in income support over the course of each doctor’s training to make the locations more appealing to young doctors.
The aim of this wage funding and support scheme is to encourage more young doctors to take up rural and remote GP work, and ensure they have adequate support, distance mentoring and education to get their medical college fellowship.
Regional Health Minister and former regional GP, Dr David Gillespie said it was important that junior doctors were adequately supported to work rurally and without this scheme, even more young doctors would be holed up in cities undertaking this significant part of their training.
“This is a win-win for patients in Tennant Creek and Mutitjulu, and the two local medical clinics looking to employ these new doctors,” Dr Gillespie 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-Joyce 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 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.”
The additional funding builds on $5 million previously provided by the Morrison-Joyce Government for a RVTS extended targeted recruitment pilot, which is providing income support for 10 doctors starting their training in 2021 and 2022.
Dr 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 Joyce 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 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 GP distribution announcement “will only result in worse outcomes for rural and remote communities.” Labor is more focused on blank cheque policies rather than patients.