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GPs welcome incentive in Queensland Government budget announcement

GPs welcome incentive in Queensland Government budget announcement

Queensland Government's Incentive in a bid to Boost GP Numbers

The Royal Australian College of GPs (RACGP) has warmly welcomed the Queensland Government’s recent announcement of $40,000 incentive payments designed to increase the number of General Practitioners (GPs) across the state.

The RACGP had previously urged the Queensland Government to allocate this funding, emphasising the importance of bolstering the general practice workforce in its 2024-25 Queensland Budget submission. This initiative was a crucial priority for the College in its ongoing advocacy efforts.

Dr. Cathryn Hester, RACGP Queensland Chair, expressed optimism about the impact of the incentive, particularly for areas outside of major urban centers.

“Every Queenslander should have access to a GP when needed,” Dr. Hester stated. “This means attracting doctors to practice across the entire state. Workforce challenges have led to too many general practice closures, which we need to address urgently.”

Dr. Hester praised the Queensland Government for responding to the needs of GPs and their communities, particularly in northern Queensland, where the demand for medical support is critical. The past year saw at least 184 general practice closures, predominantly in rural, remote, and regional areas, including two more in northern Queensland this past May.

“There is a pressing need for more GPs, especially outside Brisbane and the southeast,” Dr. Hester added. “Junior doctors transitioning from hospital systems to GP training often face significant pay cuts, sometimes losing tens of thousands of dollars, as well as parental and other leave benefits. This disparity is not seen in other specialisations. Australia needs to address this issue, and the Queensland Government’s action is a positive step.”

However, the need extends beyond GPs. The healthcare sector is facing shortages in various professions, including pharmacists, nurses, psychiatrists, and other allied health professionals. The Queensland Government’s goal to add 45,000 more nurses, midwives, and allied health workers by 2032 is another welcome initiative.

Dr. Nicole Higgins, RACGP President and Mackay GP, highlighted the practical benefits of the funding.

“Our Queensland team collaborated with the State Government to secure this funding,” Dr. Higgins said. “Such incentives are crucial as they help bridge the pay and entitlements gap that junior doctors face when transitioning from hospital training to general practice training. A recent survey showed only 10.5% of final-year medical students consider general practice their first career choice. Financial incentives can help make general practice a more attractive option.”

Dr. Higgins emphasized that the lack of paid parental or study leave for GPs in training is a significant barrier, particularly for female doctors and those with young families. The RACGP continues to advocate for federal funding to ensure GPs in training receive equitable work entitlements.

“State governments stepping up to ensure communities have access to a GP is invaluable,” Dr. Higgins concluded.

This initiative represents a significant step forward in addressing the healthcare workforce shortages in Queensland, ensuring that all residents, regardless of location, have access to essential medical care.