New innovative employment model for GPs undertaking rural training

Anastasia Tsirtsakis

6/03/2020 4:29:45 PM

Trainee rural GPs in the Murrumbidgee region can now work in private practices and local hospitals under a new employment model.

Property in rural Australia.
The new model is aimed at filling gaps in rural healthcare services and may later be rolled out nationwide.

Around seven million people live outside Australia’s major cities and ‘they deserve access to quality healthcare where and when they need it,’ Federal Regional Health Minister, Mark Coulton has stressed.
In what has been lauded as ‘an important step’ in achieving this, a new and innovative employment model is set to give trainee GPs in the Murrumbidgee region the chance to work in private practices and local hospitals to provide a greater range of care for local patients.
The new model comes amid calls from rural communities for initiatives to attract and retain doctors in rural and remote areas.
‘This new local-driven model is an important step in our commitment to delivering better healthcare for rural communities and ensuring rural practice is more appealing for doctors,’ Minister Coulton said.
‘New positions need to be attractive to trainees, which includes maintaining their employment conditions as they move between rural hospitals and primary care settings. There’s no silver bullet solution, but a range of short-, medium- and long-term solutions over time will deliver more doctors in our regions.’
The minister acknowledged that each rural community ‘is different and requires a local solution to meet the needs of that area’.
Termed the Murrumbidgee Model, it will help to fill gaps in rural healthcare services initially in the Murrumbidgee region, and then more broadly across Australia.
‘Under the Murrumbidgee Model, local regional health services – in both primary care and hospital settings – will work together to support rural generalist training in the region,’ Minister Coulton said.
‘The program includes a Medicare exemption to encourage new partnerships and the sharing of resources between state and territory government facilities.
‘This reflects a more flexible way of working to deliver training and services in rural areas.’
More than 8500 of the RACGP’s 41,000 members are based in rural and remote areas.
‘Every community across Australia deserves access to highly trained GPs who understand the unique needs and circumstances of rural and remote areas,’ Chair of RACGP Rural Associate Professor Ayman Shenouda previously told newsGP.
Minister Coulton also announced a targeted recruitment pilot involving between five and 10 locations across Australia that would be expanded.
‘The Remote Vocational Training Scheme (RVTS) has a long history of supporting doctors in small communities to gain GP Fellowship,’ he said.
‘For the last few years RVTS has had success in recruiting doctors to towns such as Mallacoota, Lightning Ridge and Bourke through their targeted recruitment strategy.
‘These are just two of a number of opportunities we are looking at trialling for new regional innovative employment models to better support GP training.’
Minister Coulton said the Coalition Government would continue to look at other innovative models to address workforce challenges for GPs in rural and remote Australia.
‘Our last budget committed $62.2 million for the Rural Generalist Pathway to help get more doctors into the regions where they are needed most,’ he said.
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