Photo caption: Federal Member for Parkes Mark Coulton and Regional Health Minister Dr David Gillespie pictured during a visit to the Western Cancer Centre in Dubbo last month.
Local GP practices in Boggabilla, Broken Hill, Dubbo, Gunnedah, Narrabri and Moree will have more options and a larger pool of doctors to recruit from, following changes announced by the Liberal Nationals Government.
Federal Member for Parkes Mark Coulton said from 1 January 2022, automatic Distribution Priority Area (DPA) classification will be given to all GP catchments in Modified Monash Model (MMM) 3 and 4 areas. This means GP catchments in MMM3-7 areas will all be automatically deemed DPA.
“This change will provide a real difference to patients in Boggabilla, Broken Hill, Dubbo, Gunnedah, Narrabri and Moree,” Mr Coulton said.
“Short term, this means that our local practices can begin reaching out to overseas doctors who want to move to our region and practice here. I know that local practices will be working hard to take full advantage of this significant change.”
The DPA classification identifies locations in Australia with a shortage of doctors. Currently, only rural and remote (MMM5-7) communities receive automatic DPA status with other MMM locations assessed annually to see whether the health services for the population meet a service benchmark.
This change gives automatic access to the DPA classification for regional and larger rural towns (MMM3-4) to make it easier for areas to recruit more doctors.
Students who accepted a Commonwealth Supported Place in an Australian medical course in return for a commitment to work in a regional, rural and remote area at the end of their studies must also work in a DPA.
Federal Regional Health Minister Dr David Gillespie said the DPA expansion would mean more regional and rural communities would have access to a GP in the short term.
“More rural and regional areas will be able to utilise the DPA system when recruiting doctors for their region, whether they be those who are wanting to move here from overseas or those young doctors who accepted a place in return for working in a regional area,” Dr Gillespie said.
“This change will help ensure rural and regional areas have a choice of more doctors to work in their local communities, leading to increased access to GP and primary care services for many thousands of Australians in regional and rural communities.”
The Morrison Joyce Government will also invest in a significant incentive for eligible doctors and nurse practitioners to practice in rural, remote or very remote areas of Australia, by eliminating all or part of their Higher Education Loan Programme (HELP) debt subject to meeting eligibility criteria.
“This new initiative shows that our government is serious about supporting doctors who genuinely commit to practice in regional, rural and remote towns, which offers continuity of care, instead of having an over-reliance of locums,” Mr Coulton said.
Minister for Health and Aged Care, Greg Hunt said our Government is acutely aware of the maldistribution of health workforce around the country and is implementing a range of policies to get more GPs, nurses and allied health professionals to areas where they are needed.
“This is just another measure that our government is using to attract more GPs to regional areas,” Minister Hunt said.
“Incentivising doctors and nurse practitioners to live and work outside of metropolitan areas will help improve access to quality health care for regional, rural and remote communities.”
“The Morrison Joyce Government is focused on delivering better outcomes, reducing access barriers and creating a flexible system that works for all Australians, regardless of where they live. Today’s announcement continues to build on this Government Stronger Rural Health Strategy and our longstanding efforts to grow our own rural GP and medical workforce,” Dr Gillespie said.
HELP debt waiver facts:
- From 1 January 2022, the Government will eliminate [100 per cent] an individual’s remaining Higher Education Loan Program (HELP) debt after they have worked in a General Practice in a rural, remote or very remote location for a specified period.
- MMM6-7: half of degree length (usually two or three years for medical practitioners and one year for nurse practitioners)
- MMM3-5: full length of degree
- Partial elimination [50 per cent] is available if an individual has worked for half of the specified time periods above.
- Practitioners must have provided a minimum level of MBS billed services (equivalent to 24 hours per week) during that time.
- Instructions on how to apply for the HELP debt waiver program will be released soon.
MMM3-4 in the Parkes electorate:
- Broken Hill / Tibooburra – MMM3 (partial DPA)
- Narrabri – MMM3 (partial DPA)
- Boggabilla – MMM4 (DPA)
- Dubbo – MMM3 (DPA)
- Gunnedah – MMM4 (DPA)
- Moree – MMM4 (DPA)
Please note that some GP catchments are listed as partial DPA. This is because areas within the GP catchment have different MMM classifications. Individual practices should check the Health Workforce Locator for confirmation of their MMM location and therefore whether they will be deemed eligible for automatic DPA status.
Everywhere else in the Parkes electorate is MMM5-7