Minister delivers good news for rural doctors and rural communities

6 Nov 2014

The AMA warmly welcomed a number of reforms announced recently by the Assistant Minister for Health, Senator Fiona Nash, which will help to make rural medical practice a more attractive proposition for many doctors, and help ensure that rural Australians have better access to quality health services locally.

The reforms announced include:

  • Replacing the failed ASGC-RA classification system that underpins rural workforce incentives with the Modified Monash Model of Rural Classification. 
  • Updating the District of Workforce Shortage (DWS) system to use the latest ABS population data and the most recent medical services data to more accurately reflect workforce needs.
  • Changing the Bonded Medical Places program to allow bonded students to complete their return of service obligation in small towns in inner and outer regional areas and in remote areas, regardless of whether those areas are DWS.

“The AMA has been advocating for these changes for years,” A/Prof Owler said.

Senator Nash has also recognised the AMA's call for consultation on the implementation of these measures through the formation of an Expert Panel. A/Prof Owler said the AMA is keen to work with the Minister to implement these important changes and discuss other initiatives to further enhance rural health services.

“The AMA has recently released a positive proposal for the development of Regional Training Networks, and we strongly back the development of an advanced rural general practice training pathway. The AMA wants to discuss with the Minister the negative impact of the Budget changes to the Prevocational General Practice Placements Program (PGPPP), and reach a solution. We need to develop a new model to provide junior doctors with prevocational experience in general practice, particularly in rural areas.”

“Senator Nash has shown that she wants to work collaboratively with the medical profession to provide better health services for rural Australia, and the AMA looks forward to continuing with this very productive partnership,” A/Prof Owler said.

AMA media release.