GP registrars are aggrieved that a growing number of training practices are making them wait three months to receive their share of billings.
The three-month pay cycle was used in 28% of practices in 2017, up from 19% in 2014, according to the latest national survey by General Practice Registrars Australia.
In 2014, most practices paid fortnightly or weekly.
“This is causing a lot of dissatisfaction among registrars GPRA hears from,” GPRA president Dr Melanie Smith said.
Flat growth in the national pay rates for employee registrars, negotiated with the GP Supervisors Association, meant their Medicare billings were a significant part of their income.
“Withholding this payment for three months is not a fair and reasonable way for training practices to treat their GP registrar employees.”
This could be a significant source of stress, especially for GP registrars who had to relocate to do their training placement, she said.
Receiving a percentage of billings made up for the low base rate of pay for GP registrars compared with hospital registrars, and was a “key part of a fair and reasonable employment situation”.
Typically, registrars received 44.79% of their billings, the base rate under the negotiated agreement.
These funds were needed to pay for study resources, college examination fees and other training costs as well as day-to-day living expenses, Dr Smith said.
The GPRA 2017 Benchmarking Survey revealed that 10.6% of practices paid registrars their share of billings monthly, 40.6 % paid fortnightly and 8.9% paid weekly.
“Unfortunately, 28% of practices force registrars to wait for three months to receive their share of the Medicare billings they have earned for their training practice,” Dr Smith said.
“That means they wait up to 13 times as long as other registrars to receive their percentage of their billings.”
The long delay was “disappointing”, given than more 60% of practices paid their registrars their share of the Medicare billings they had earned “within a reasonable timeframe, at least monthly”.
The GP supervisors’ association advises training practices to pay no more than the agreed percentage, to pay “no less than three-monthly” and to pay “on receipt”.
It recommends practices pay the base salary and a payment for their billings after 13 weeks.