TEN local towns are set to benefit after a national move to reward rural GPs.
Doctors in Manilla, Quirindi, Bingara, Uralla, Werris Creek, Barraba, Walcha, Wee Waa, Guyra and
Tenterfield will all receive higher incentives from July this year.
The revamped GP Rural Incentives Program has been spruiked as a fairer system by federal assistant health
minister Fiona Nash.
Under the old program, up to $50 million a year was going to incentives for doctors to remain in well-serviced
regional cities, including Townsville and Cairns, both with populations of more than 100,000.
"The new GPRIP system will deliver a fairer system for smaller towns; redirecting money to attract more
doctors to smaller towns that have genuine difficulty attracting and retaining doctors," Ms Nash said.
"It makes more sense to use that money to attract doctors to where the greatest shortages are small rural and
remote communities, not big regional cities.
"This means bigger incentive payments will go to doctors who choose to work in the areas of greatest need."
Tamworth GP Jenny May, who is currently attending the National Rural Health conference in Darwin where
the announcement was made, said the change was "a win" for doctors servicing smaller areas.
"The main aim of the program is to provide financial incentives to those working in our smaller district
hospitals who provide after hours and hospital care," Dr May said.
"It is a win for supporting a scope of practice in rural towns, which is both difficult and time consuming.
"The incentives will reward retention. That's an important thing to be rewarding."
The new GP rural incentive payment will benefit as many as 450 rural towns.
The highest incentive paid to work in remote Australia jumps from $47,000 a year to $60,000 a year, and the
maximum incentive to work in a town of less than 5000 people in regional Australia will increase from $18,000