One rural NSW town is suffering such a shortage of trained medical staff, its council is offering $180,000 in incentives to attract more doctors.
GPs willing to make the move will need to sign up for a three-year stint, and work at least three days per week, to be eligible.
The GP Support Program will offer up to $30,000 per doctor — on top of their salaries — in a bid to attract them to Inverell, as the town suffers amid a skilled health staff shortage.
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The Sapphire City situated on the Macintyre River close to the Queensland border hopes it will welcome six doctors — two each year — under the scheme.
“Two placements have already been allocated,” Inverell Shire Council’s chief financial officer told a council meeting about the program in June.
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While the GPs will be employed and paid by local medical practices, each will be able to claim up to $30,000 in accommodation and transport expenses under the council policy which was approved last month.
The policy states that “a maximum contribution of up to $15,000” can be used for accommodation costs such as “bond, or weekly rent, or property purchase price”, while a further maximum council contribution of up to $15,000 is available for “costs incurred in leasing/purchasing a motor vehicle”.
Monthly claims with proof of spending must be submitted by the general practice where the GP is employed before funds are distributed.
“The shortage of doctors based in Inverell is well known and continues to worsen,” Inverell Shire Council said.
“Inverell, like many other communities, is faced with low (numbers of) general practitioners per population rates, difficulty in securing proceduralist GPs and visiting medical officer services, and declining registrar rates.
“These shortages are resulting in compromised access to care, GP fatigue and pressure on the primary care sector.
“These conditions exacerbate problems attracting new GPs into Inverell as a rural tenure can be viewed as less favourable to regional and metro roles.”
Inverell Shire Council is offering six grants up to $30,000 to GPs willing to help combat the rural town’s health staff shortages. Credit: Getty ImagesGPs will need to sign up for a three-year placement to be eligible for funding. Credit: Getty Images
To be eligible for the funding, GPs will need to work at a medical practice within Inverell LGA and have no restrictions on their service provisions. They must have a registered ABN number, appropriate insurance, and provide a certificate of currency.
Medical practices can only access one GP Support Program grant per year.
The GP Support Program is separate to the state’s Rural Health Workforce Incentive Scheme, which has now doubled its incentive to $20,000, Premier Chris Minns announced on Friday.
Funding for the GP Support Program will come from the council’s Industry Promotion and Assistance budget, which this financial year sits at $105,000.
Any unclaimed grant funding to the balance of $120,000 will be transferred and held in a restricted reserve, the chief financial officer told the council meeting in June.
7NEWS.com.au has contacted the council for comment.
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