Northam, Toodyay, York and Wundowie are among 450 country towns who will find it easier to attract doctors under an overhauled GP Rural Incentives Program (GPRIP).
Federal Member for Pearce, Christian Porter, said a revamped and much fairer GPRIP would mean smaller rural communities would be able to more easily attract and retain GPs.
“The new GPRIP system will deliver a fairer system; redirecting money to attract more doctors to smaller towns that have genuine difficulty attracting and retaining doctors,” he said.
“I’m pleased that Northam, Toodyay, York and Wundowie will all benefit from these changes as I know that GP shortages are an issue in these areas.
“It made no sense that under the Labor system, some $50 million a year was being used to pay incentives for doctors to live in 14 large regional cities, including Townsville (population 175,000) and Cairns (population 145,000) while places like Northam, Toodyay, York and Wundowie were suffering.
“For decades, small rural towns in Pearce have struggled to attract enough doctors. I have spoken with many constituents who have had to drive as far as Perth just to see a doctor – this change will help tackle GP shortages in regional Pearce.”
The highest incentive paid to work in remote Australia will jump from $47,000 a year to $60,000 a year. The maximum incentive to work in a town of less than 5,000 in regional Australia will increase from $18,000 to $23,000.
Other changes include:
Doctors will be able to take leave from a rural practice for up to five years with no loss of incentive status on their return;
Four existing programs have been streamlined into a single GPRIP retention payment and doctors will need to stay in a rural or regional area longer – two years up from the current six months – before they receive the incentive.
Doctors in remote areas will receive incentive payments after a year.
The new incentive arrangements will start from 1 July 2015.