Queensland offers $40k carrot to attract new GPs

Matt Woodley

11/06/2024 3:49:57 PM

The Government has unveiled a $20 million program it hopes will encourage 500 aspiring GPs to undertake training in the Sunshine State.

Cameron Dick and Steven Miles
Queensland Treasurer Cameron Dick (left) and Premier Steven Miles speak to the media during the handing down of the 2024–25 State Budget. (Image: AAP)

The RACGP has welcomed a Queensland Government commitment to provide $40,000 incentive payments for up to 500 GPs in training, which is designed to ease pressure on regional and rural areas, in particular.
Improving the general practice workforce was a key college priority this year, with the RACGP expressing its views in a number of meetings, as well as in its 2024–25 Queensland Budget submission.
RACGP Queensland Chair Dr Cathryn Hester said the incentive should help ensure all Queenslanders can access a GP, including those living outside big cities.
‘Everyone in Queensland should be able to see a GP when they need to,’ she said.
‘That means attracting doctors into general practice throughout our state. We have seen far too many general practices close in Queensland, often because of workforce challenges.
‘I’m proud of the work our teams put in to achieve this funding, and thankful to the Queensland Government for listening to GPs and their communities. Many of our communities, especially in the north of the state, desperately need this support.’
Last year, the RACGP reported at least 184 closures, disproportionately in rural, remote and regional areas. Closures have continued in northern Queensland, with a further two lost in May.
‘Simply put, we need more GPs, especially outside Brisbane and the southeast,’ Dr Hester said.
‘Unfortunately, doctors leaving the hospital system to do their general practice training usually take a hit to earnings that can be in the tens of thousands of dollars, and they also lose the parental and other leave they have earned.
‘That doesn’t happen with other specialisations. Australia needs a solution to this, and the Queensland Government has stepped up to help to fill that gap.’
RACGP President and Mackay GP Dr Nicole Higgins said the investment will help to cover the pay and entitlements disparity junior doctors experience when they complete hospital training and commence training in general practice.
‘This funding was something our Queensland team worked with the State Government to deliver,’ she said.
‘A recent survey found only 10.5% of final-year medical students have general practice as their first choice of career. The financial incentive will encourage medical students to choose GP over other specialities offering better pay.
‘As it stands, most GPs in training don’t get paid parental or study leave. This is a barrier to bringing more GPs into practice, especially for female doctors and those with young families.
‘We called on the Federal Government to fund work entitlements and an incentive payment so GPs in training get the same as their hospital-based counterparts in the 2024 Budget, and we’ll continue to call for action on this.
‘That makes it all the more valuable for state governments to step up to ensure their communities all have access to a GP when they need one.’
The general practice funding is part of a $1.7 billion strategy, designed to expand the entire healthcare workforce by 45,000 people by 2032.
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