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‘Another cost to absorb’: 16% hike in GPs’ registration fee


Jolyon Attwooll


14/08/2023 4:08:27 PM

With regulatory duties for the Medical Board of Australia expanding, the RACGP President queries whether individual GPs should have to foot the bill.

Money in wallet
The RACGP President says the cost of an increasing regulatory burden should not be passed on to individual GPs.

Registration fees for the Medical Board of Australia (MBA) – already outpacing most other health practitioners – have risen a further 16% for the next year.
 
With doctors beginning to pay registration fees for 2023–24 from the middle of this month, there will be a $135 rise from $860 to $995 for all jurisdictions apart from NSW, where the overall charge will be $930.
 
AHPRA and the MBA say this year’s fee increase is based on new modelling reflecting ‘the actual complexity, volume, and time involved in medical regulation’.
 
They said the fee is now based on ‘more complete data’ as well as on independent financial advice.
 
‘Regrettably, more complete data shows that a small increase would not cover the actual cost of regulating the profession,’ the AHPRA website states.
 
‘Compounding factors that have increased regulatory costs in the last year include higher inflation, escalating numbers of notifications, more high-risk matters, cosmetic surgery reforms, stronger management of sexual boundary violations and the added costs of responding to Ministerial directions, [such as] the regulatory implications of increasing Australia’s health workforce safely.
 
‘We recognise that this increase is coming at a tough time for many doctors, but without any government funding, we have no other option to pay for regulation.’
 
RACGP President Dr Nicole Higgins believes that the costs of an increasing regulatory burden on AHPRA should not be passed on to individual GPs.
 
‘With AHPRA being funded by membership, if they’re required to do extra work for the Government, then that should be funded by the Government,’ she told newsGP.
 
‘GPs simply can’t afford to subsidise these extra costs, and as the financial burden increases for individual GPs and for practices, they will unfortunately have to be passed on to patients.’

The RACGP President also says the increase comes at a moment when financial pressures on GPs have been growing.
 
‘As a practice owner, I know only too well how GPs are being hit by costs that our funding has not kept pace with,’ Dr Higgins said.
 
‘We’ve never recovered from the Medicare freeze, and now the rising cost of living, increased insurance costs and – perhaps most worryingly – payroll tax changes are all threatening the viability of practices around the country.  
 
‘So, a 16% rise in registration fees does not come at a good time for many GPs – it’s just another cost they are expected to absorb.’
 
AHPRA and the MBA also drew attention to a change in fees for ‘labour-intensive and costly’ registration applications, stating that the costs historically had been shared.
 
They said it is now ‘financially unsustainable’ for such an approach, which had allowed a free registration application process for local graduates and a heavily subsidised one for international medical graduates (IMGs).
 
‘More complete data about the actual costs of regulation, along with the increased workload involved in managing a larger volume of applications for medical registration [domestic and international], has made it clear that it is financially unsustainable for the Board to continue to subsidise application fees,’ the MBA stated.
 
The application fee for specialist registration will increase from $860 in 2022–23 to $1500 in the next year, an increase of 74%, while applications for provisional registration for Australian and New Zealand graduates will now be charged $300 when they previously had not incurred a fee.
 
‘We regret that these increases are unavoidable,’ the MBA states.
 
Prior to these recent changes, MBA registration fees had still been among the fastest rising of all health practitioners, with only two other professions rising faster from 2019–20 to 2022–23.  
 
The Physiotherapy Board of Australia rose by 25% in that time frame, largely due to an 18% ‘corrective’ rise for the most recent financial year, while the Optometry Board of Australia rose at 9.4%, marginally more than the MBA’s 9.3%.
 
Several boards reduced their fees during that time.
 
MBA registration fees are significantly more than any other board for practitioners overseen by APHRA, with fees charged by the Dental Board of Australia – the second highest – standing at $719 for the current year.
 
Part of that difference can be explained by the proportion of notifications affecting different areas of health – for example notifications involved 3.9% of the dental profession in 2021–22, compared to  6.2% of medical practitioners in the same timeframe.
 
According to the most recent AHPRA annual report, it gathered $235.6 million of its annual income in 2022 through registration and application fees, up from $222.4 million in 2021.
 
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AHPRA GP fees MBA Medical Board of Australia


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Stevan B   15/08/2023 7:20:04 AM

While I understand costs increasing, I'm most upset by the added cost of registration for new graduates. Many people who finish medical school are not working, as the time required to study medicine is a full time job in itself. Where will this extra $300 come from? Given that in the first year of registration you are required to pay a full year fee, even though you are only working from January to August/September before having to pay again, surely the cost of registration is covered in the "yearly fee" that is only providing 9 months of cover. (Note that I have already been through this and the $300 will not affect me).


Dr Robert William Micallef   15/08/2023 8:09:10 AM

Maybe AHPRA needs to stop entertaining trivial nonsense complaints and focus on public safety.


Dr Qi Rong Huang   15/08/2023 1:19:09 PM

I have not got any benefit by paying this fee, on the contrary, have a feeling of paying someone to dig graveyard for ourselves. The change to the CPD requirement is an evidence. The MBA creates new a CPD system that has no evidence of improving patients' care, but increasing doctor's stress, added to already busy working life. Providing a free access to the therapeutic guidelines (eTG ), which is free to all GP registrars, to all doctors would be the best way to support and maintain best practice. But the MBA is not interested in this kind of simple measures, but interested in expanding its' business.


Dr Shane Conrad Luland   15/08/2023 5:47:29 PM

The Board had a 17 million dollar surplus last financial year and has an equity or over 100 million, 16% increase seems a little steep.


Dr Disgusted   15/08/2023 6:37:08 PM

We should increase our charges by 16%.


Dr Paul Robert Triggs   15/08/2023 7:03:25 PM

In reality, it is a cost that will need to be passed on to patients.


Dr Peter JD Spafford   16/08/2023 9:48:44 PM

Along with CPD changes, unreal expectations of expecting us to be perfect at all times and AHPRA considering guilty until proven innocent, this is a final straw. Statistically AHPRA deals with trivial cases far more than the GMC in Britain, takes extended time to reach a conclusion, fails to indicate even how it assesses risk, conducts telephone interviews with complaintiffs and produces them as statements, acts as judge, jury and executioner, and a few more issues to boot. No thanks. I will not reregister this year, Goodbye GP land and what I have loved doing. At the age of 64 I have got to the best of my experiences, but I do not like being pushed around.


Dr Stephen Morris   18/08/2023 8:22:06 PM

Can I just sign up for 'AHPRA-lite'? I don't need complex monitoring or registration as they claim in their statement. I would happily pay the residual should AHPRA need to actually work on my account afterwards....


Dr Parvathy Murali   20/08/2023 9:19:03 AM

Do the board deserve this hike in cost of regstration?Any concession given for Senior GPS doing reduced hrs ?


Dr Theja Seneviratne   21/08/2023 1:12:04 PM

I don't think it is fair for MBA to create a registration fee increase.GP's are in worse situation now. Getting the CPD points into their hand and for the cost involved with it now GPs have to pay increase registration fee to cover it. Why not leave RACGP to manage CPD as done so far? I cannot see advantage of current CPD over what we have done over the years! Only we are being treated like medical students.