GPs to receive cash incentives to vaccinate aged care and disability workers

Paul Hayes

5/08/2021 4:48:04 PM

The RACGP has welcomed the plan for GPs to collect $1000 once they vaccinate 50 workers, and $20 per worker thereafter.

Aged care worker getting vaccinated.
GPs will receive a $1000 payment once they vaccinate 50 vaccinate aged care and disability workers, and $20 per worker thereafter. (Image: AAP)

With National Cabinet having set national vaccination targets aimed at allowing Australia to reach a post-COVID normal, the Federal Government is now offering GPs cash incentives to help to speed up the rollout and protect vulnerable people in the community.
GPs will now receive a $1000 payment once they vaccinate 50 vaccinate aged care and disability workers, and $20 per worker thereafter. The funding is only available for vaccinations that are provided via a dedicated in-reach service, but can be claimed in addition to existing flag-fall arrangements and the Medicare items for delivering COVID vaccines.
The incentive is cumulative, which mean the vaccinations can be delivered in one or multiple facilities. In addition, the payments can be backdated to mid-April and will be available until the end of October 2021.
RACGP President Dr Karen Price has backed the plan, describing the new incentive payments as a positive step forward.
‘Many people may not realise the vital role GPs play in caring for older people in aged care facilities, so it is a logical step for GPs to be incentivised to vaccinate those who care for people in these facilities,’ she said.
‘GPs are the backbone of the COVID-19 vaccine rollout and they are doing a tremendous job; however, the rollout has presented many challenges for general practice, so these additional payments are just what the doctor ordered.’
The vaccination of Australia’s aged care workers, who are often on the frontline of COVID outbreaks, has moved slowly to this point. Government figures from July showed just one in four of the country’s aged care workers had been fully vaccinated, and 43% had received one dose.
The Government has mandated that all aged care workers must receive their first vaccine dose by mid-September in order to work in the sector.
Dr Price said urgently vaccinating aged care and disability workers could save lives.
‘Vaccinating our older patients and people with a disability is essential,’ she said. ‘However, that is not a complete solution because if workers are not vaccinated they could inadvertently spread the virus to the people they look after, and the consequences can prove disastrous.
‘For any aged care or disability worker my message is straightforward: it is vital that you are vaccinated as soon as possible. Even if you are a young and healthy person, this virus still poses a threat to you and the people you care for.’
According to a Department of Health fact sheet, general practices with capacity to support in-reach clinics should contact their local Primary Health Network (PHN) to coordinate the clinics, and priority consideration may be given to practices that have an existing relationship with a residential aged care facility (RACF).
Both the RACF and general practice must engage with their local PHN before and after any in-reach clinic to report:

  • the planned date of in-reach vaccination clinic
  • confirmation that the clinic was delivered
  • the number of staff vaccinated.
However, disability workforce in-reach clinics may be coordinated directly between disability support providers and primary care providers, without the need to involve their PHN.
To be eligible to receive the payments, primary care providers must report the relevant details for each facility visited through the COVID-19 Vaccine Administrative System (CVAS), which will be functional from Thursday 12 August.
Payments for general practices will be made in November through the Practice Incentive Program (PIP), and GPs providing MBS assessment items must be linked to the practice approved for PIP.
The new incentives for GPs to administer the vaccine come in the same week Prime Minister Morrison downplayed the suggestion of cash payments to individuals for receiving the vaccine.
‘Financial incentives are likely to discourage vaccination, particularly amongst those who are concerned about adverse effects,’ he said during question time on Tuesday.
‘Those 80% of older Australians who have turned up and rolled up their sleeves, they didn’t need the cash. They just needed to know that it was good for them, it was good for their family, it was good for their community and it was good for their country.’
But speaking on Wednesday, the head of Australia’s COVID Vaccine Strategy, Lieutenant General John Frewen, said the Government incentives are being considered but are currently not needed because ‘Australians are coming forward’.
‘Demand is still exceeding supply right now, so the time for incentives I think may be later in the year when we’re getting into some of the more hesitant sort of groups,’ he said.
‘We will look at all of the sorts of positive alternatives. There is cash, there is the idea of lotteries, all these things are being discussed.
‘Getting vaccinated is the right thing to do, it’s the right thing for individuals and it is the right thing for our nation.’
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Dr Maria Rasool   6/08/2021 7:15:44 AM

Applying the rule of ' no jab no pay' for the people on any type of centrelink support payments can be a stronger incentive for people to get vaccinated for covid.
No doubt it's important to vaccinate the aged care patients and staff but it's equally important to vaccinate everyone else too to protect the most vulnerable among us.

Liz Romeo   6/08/2021 8:01:56 AM

Are these workers really being turned away when they request vaccination? We offered our aged care facilities priority appointments in March but they weren't taken up.

Rural GP   6/08/2021 10:15:27 AM

Playing catch up again! Our first call when we got Pfizer was to all our local aged care facilities. (1 month ago) We didn’t need phn or incentives. We have been finding spots around HotDoc to get Aged care workers and pregnant women in for vaccination. Despite the technology. Now we have to go back and extract the data of who was an Aged care worker. How? I wish these bureaucrats would keep up.
We are giving the vaccines, they need to be as nimble as we are.
Next o fix the eligibility checker for pregnant women and stop patients traveling from Sydney to the regions for their vaccines. Could they address this please.?
Please dont say, “ just call your GP. “

Rural GP   6/08/2021 10:51:41 AM

Doh ! My mistake . Its “IN REACH” which means it must be on site at the RAHC.! Once again nimble GP’s miss out. Even though we did an outside clinic, in the car park and vaccinated 70 people. Job done, no payment ( I gather. )

Dr Alan Graham MacKenzie   6/08/2021 12:01:22 PM

Have I got this right
The public should not be offered rewards or incentives to get vaccinated. This is deemed demeaning and unnecessary
GP ‘s however welcome being offered rewards and incentives for doing their job and vaccinating people who volunteer to be immunised
Hypocrisy reigns

Dr Simon Mark Holliday   6/08/2021 10:18:34 PM

This is a mean and tricky incentive. Like the vaccination fee and the after-hours definitions, it is quite inadequate. The government offers a flag-fall $500 to private corporations for attending these facilities. We get zero unless we do 50 jabs. Seriously do this assume that GPs will clap our hands with delight at the prospect of reaching this carrot dangled in the direction they need us to go?