New plan to attract rural docs

New plan to attract rural docs

The Federal and State Governments are making it easier for South Australians to see a doctor by attracting and retaining more doctors in regional and rural South Australia – including in the Limestone Coast.

The new Single Employer Model (SEM) will support up to 60 additional GP and rural generalist registrars training in the community at any one time – potentially quadrupling the state’s existing cohort as the program scales up over time.

Under the program, GP and rural generalist registrars will have the option of being employed by the South Australian Health Service as salaried employees.

This would allow them to have a single employer while placed in GP practices in rural and regional locations across the state, instead of having to change employers every six or 12 months with each new placement.

By providing GP and rural generalist registrars with guaranteed income and entitlements such as annual leave, parental leave, sick leave and other remuneration and benefits received by doctors working in hospital settings, the SEM will make working in rural and general practice more attractive and improve recruitment and retention of GPs in regional and rural 

This will give medical graduates the best opportunity to build their careers while supporting our medical workforce in regional and rural areas, making it easier for South Australians to see a doctor.

This is a model that has worked in previous trials.

It offers the security that many young doctors are after and provides a pathway to increase the number of rural GPs and highly skilled rural generalists across South Australia.

It will cover five regional and rural Local Health Networks (LHNs) in Barossa Hills and Fleurieu, Eyre and Far North, Flinders and Upper North, Yorke and Northern, and the Limestone Coast.

The new trial is part of an SEM expansion announced in the October 2022 and May 2023 Federal Budgets and will run until 2028.

Federal Health Minister Mark Butler said the government wanted to attract more doctors to regional South Australia.

“This innovative approach will help to retain the doctors we need to continue to provide essential primary healthcare services to South Australians,” he said.

“We look forward to working collaboratively with the Malinauskas Government to make training and working in rural general practice a more attractive option for young doctors.

Importantly, it will make it easier for people in regional South Australia to see a doctor close to home.

“The Albanese Government continues to support new models of care, and remove unnecessary barriers, to strengthen Australia’s primary care services now and in the future.”

Premier Peter Malinauskas said his government was very supportive of any initiative that helps to attract and retain doctors to regional South Australia.

“I want to thank the Albanese Government for adopting this new model of care that makes it attractive for registrars to deliver services in the country,” he said.

“Bringing in more doctors to regional South Australia continues our recruiting drive in the past two years to boost the state’s health system, when we have hired more than 1400 extra health workers.”

State Health Minister Chris Picton said there had been a successful the Single Employer Model in the Riverland for the past two years, increasing the medical workforce by more than 25% in the region.

“I am thrilled this is now rolling out across the rest of South Australia and supporting up to 80 GP and rural generalist registrars training in the community,” he said.

“South Australians deserve access to quality health care no matter where they live, and having more doctors in the country is another step towards achieving this.”

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