Government reduction of visas for overseas GPs to save $400 million

Doug Hendrie

31/05/2018 2:42:57 PM

The Federal Government plans to slash 800 visas for overseas GPs over four years, a move it says will save more than $400 million from the health budget through reduced billing.

Australian visa and map
Fewer visas will be available for overseas-trained doctors.

The move to cut 800 visas for overseas GPs over four years was initially announced in the 2018–19 Federal Budget, with more detail coming to light in this week’s Senate Estimates hearings.
The visa changes are intended to better distribute GPs coming into Australia, reducing overall numbers entering and redirecting new arrivals to rural and regional areas.
Senator Murray Watt asked how these savings would be achieved, suggesting that patients would just go and see another GP.
Department of Health (DoH) officials responded by saying increased supply of doctors means increased billing, and that patients would go to see a GP for more issues than they would otherwise.
The officials said the move is not intended to remove good ratios of GPs, but rather reduce an oversupply and, in doing so, reduce use of Medicare services. The savings would be re-invested into the health system. 
Any Medical Benefits Schedule (MBS) items affected are expected to be mainly GP-specific, as well as some referrals and pathology.
The DoH has agreed to provide a breakdown on savings, affected Medicare items, and geographical area by year in the coming months.
The RACGP has previously advocated for GPs to be removed from the medium and long-term strategic skills due to the recent increase in Australian-trained medical graduates.

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Alireza   1/06/2018 6:50:23 AM

What I understand from the response is , from their views some of the GP consults is an unnecessary consults which can be avoided ??? So is it planning to make GP access harder for patients ?

Dr George Alhorani   1/06/2018 6:53:29 AM

This is the most unwise decision the DOH and our government will take , if they do that , in 2 years time we will not find any doctors to work during the after hours , after 6 pm , weekends & public holidays ...
Australian Graduates doctors will not work these hours .
Accordingly the after hours patients will end up at the emergency Department of our public hospitals , which is already overloaded.
And if the patients ended up at the ED of public hospital it will cost the government and our Tax money 20 times more per Patient than seeing an after hours GP .
The problem is the decision makers in our country are not living the real life of the General Practice , I think they using a faulty calculator!!!!!!

Wayne Shipley   1/06/2018 8:26:01 AM

Well overdue. We have record numbers of medical students and we need to put them somewhere. That 400 million savings can go straight to the rural doctors pay. That way we will get real redristribution as doctors will go where the money is, just like everyone wants to be an ophthalmologist these days, not because eyes are so amazing but because the specialty pays so well. Urban oversupply will mean doctors will go to rural placements but only if the wages are increased by at least $150000 to $200000 on top of existing wages. The rural shortage will be corrected overnight!

Dr Peter Finlayson   1/06/2018 8:53:18 AM

I don't think there should be any argument that locally trained doctors should be providing rural services. However, in broad terms, 50% of our rural Drs are IMGs. Unless locally trained doctors are going to replace the reduced number of IMGs, rural morbidity and mortality will further increase. So, fix the maldistribution issue before tackling the visas.

Chris   1/06/2018 9:54:42 AM

This is great news for Australian trained Doctors like myself. Maybe I'll have a chance to now obtain my provider number in order to complete my GP training in the rural and remote town I live in.

Dr Chris Martin   1/06/2018 12:45:23 PM

Mark my words this is not solving the problem it is just a matter of blocking IMGs from coming .Rural doctors shortage is huge, the newly graduates needs time to get confidence to work alone in most rural settings. As mention most locals do not want to work odd hours and places, why??

Michiel Mel   1/06/2018 12:52:19 PM

Before getting overseas trained GPs out, they will want to make it attractive for local graduates to be in the country first. A lot of country GPs know that our students and registrars get drawn back to the city. The reasons why do not appear to have been captured well. Some are obvious and we see those as cliches in the media: far away from family, remote and on your own. But factors such as a poor general practice culture and primary care strategy in country areas aren't seen and recognised.
You're still out on your own and you still have to make the most of it by yourself and what that takes, the new GPs of the future do not get prepared for that.

Moayad Al Kaptan   1/06/2018 1:17:07 PM

I didn't know Australians were such bad doctor shoppers they need government sction to deny them access to doctors so they can stop.

Rohit Sood   2/06/2018 7:53:36 AM

The logic is baffling. It seems that the DoH wants to restrict GP consultations by patients. This will increase th waiting periods for consultations

John   2/06/2018 6:17:43 PM

The $400M savings is typical budget fabrication and difficult to relate to services provided by current IMG,s Similarly Chris above, what stands in your way to get your provider number other than completing your studies? Certainly IMG,s is of no concern to your aims? It is a fact that many newly qualified docs shy away from after hours due to a balanced lifestyle more suitable in the City.

MIP   3/06/2018 3:17:06 AM

This is the most preposterous argument I have ever heard! Less IMG GPS in rural area so public will visit less number of times to GPS then they originally would have! Seriously?
Or is it a plan for government to let people learn to sort out some of the problems themselves rather go to their GPs? Again, seriously?

MIP   3/06/2018 3:18:24 AM

This is the most preposterous argument I have ever heard! Less IMG GPS in rural area so public will visit less number of times to GPS then they originally would have! Seriously?
Or is it a plan for government to let people learn to sort out some of the problems themselves rather go to their GPs? Again, seriously?

A Moore   4/06/2018 9:34:37 PM

Patient choice ie Dr shopping is the biggest waste of Medicare /tax payer funding I see. Earnings based on keeping patients happy so they come back to you is ludicrous. No continuity of care=huge inefficiency, and Dr shopping means unsafe care, difficulty challenging patient behaviour e.g. poor compliance. I'm a UK GP and my prescribing, referrals and use of diagnostics is far more evidence based than general. Lots of savings to made by changing the culture and making patients register with one practice for all Medicare billed consults.

John   7/06/2018 12:01:33 PM

I recruit GPs for general practices throughout Australia.
On a daily basis we receive requests to assist practices around Australia (city and regional) with finding them GPs. As per recent published survey:
" GPs were not only number five on the hard to fill list but demand currently outstrips supply by more than 12 times, despite the job paying an average salary of $256,680
Please don't play politics with the health of our population!

Dr Reinier N. De Villiers   22/03/2019 8:48:30 AM

The inability of the Federal government, RACGP and the Department of health to recognise the actual reasons for the Rural and Remote health predicaments is astounding.
The living standards and conditions for dependents of Medical Specialists are appalling.
A highly qualified specialist that has at least 10 to 20 years of experience and skills in all the disciplines needed to be an effective rural specialist is a rare resource.
As such we must be treated with respect and
- proper remuneration : $350,000 plus
- higher standards of accomodation in the allocated rural town of expected practise
- assisted access to private schools for our children, local schools breed a culture of mediocrity
- assistance in the purchase of a home in the city of their choice e.g. access to first home owners benefits
- employment opportunities for professional partners commensurate with experience
As an International Medical Graduate who has dedicated 8yrs to Rural & Remote Health.
I know!!!