Comprehensive plan needed to attract doctors to live and work in the bush for the long term

9 Aug 2012

The AMA welcomes the release this week of the research, Getting Doctors into the Bush: GPs Preferences for Rural Location, which investigated the types of incentives and compensation needed to entice GPs to shift to rural locations.

AMA President, Dr Steve Hambleton, said today that the research highlights the need for a robust set of incentives – a comprehensive plan – to attract doctors and medical students to live and work in rural and regional Australia.

“The research confirms what we all know, and that is that there is no ‘silver bullet’ solution,” Dr Hambleton said.

“A whole range of issues including on-call commitments, locum support, remuneration, and professional and family support must be addressed.

“The AMA has for some time identified medical workforce shortage as a major health issue, particularly in regional and rural Australia.

“The Government had made additional investments to encourage more locally-trained doctors to work in these areas, but rural and regional communities are still overly reliant on international medical graduates (IMGs) to fill workforce gaps.

“The AMA has a plan to get locally-trained doctors to the bush.

“The AMA Position Statement on Regional/Rural Workforce Initiatives 2012 identifies possible solutions to help attract and retain more doctors in regional and rural areas.

“The AMA Plan urges the Government to:

  • provide a dedicated and quality training pathway with the right skill mix to ensure GPs are adequately trained to work in rural areas;
  • provide a realistic and sustainable work environment with flexibility, including locum relief;
  • provide family support that includes spousal opportunities/employment, educational opportunities for children’s education, subsidy for housing/relocation and/or tax relief;
  • provide financial incentives including rural loadings to ensure competitive remuneration; and
  • provide a working environment that would allow quality training and supervision.

“There is also significant ongoing concern with how Australian Standard Geographical Classification – Remoteness Areas (ASGC-RA) is being applied to determine the distribution of financial incentives.

“Even though more areas are eligible for incentives, the current ASGC-RA system is resulting in perverse outcomes in some situations.  The AMA recommends a proper ASGC-RA review to sort out these problems,” Dr Hambleton said.

The AMA Position Statement on Regional/Rural Workforce Initiatives 2012 is at


9 August 2012


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                        Kirsty Waterford                   02 6270 5464 / 0427 209 753