27 May 2022

NSW moves to take rural GP from feds

Political Rural

The state’s Regional Health Minister says she has called for talks about general practice transitioning to a state responsibility.

NSW wants to take over rural general practice from the commonwealth, with Regional Health Minister Bronnie Taylor reportedly setting up meetings to formally request a handover.

As reported by the ABC, Ms Taylor appeared at a regional health forum hosted by the Country Mayors Association in Sydney on Thursday afternoon, where she was set to discuss a recent report which detailed serious issues with rural health in NSW.

Some of its more shocking findings were that there is a “culture of fear operating within NSW Health”, that residents in rural, regional and remote locations have “inferior access to health and hospital services” and that successive governments have failed to attract, retain and support the health workforce.

It also heavily criticised the lack of coordination between state and federal funding efforts, particularly in primary care.

According to the ABC, Ms Taylor told audiences at the regional health forum that she wanted to take action on the findings of the report as soon as possible and had already created a division of regional health and a coordinator-general of regional health.

The coordinator-general will be informed by representatives from appointed people in each local health district.

She also reportedly said that the state government should oversee all health services, including GPs.

“We are really good at service delivery. It’s what we do. It’s what we’re strong at,” she said.

“I think it creates a lot of issues because you have this multi-tiered system, but people don’t want to hear about the difference between federal and state. They just want it fixed.”

Ms Taylor also acknowledged that addressing the workforce issues in rural NSW would be difficult, and that she was “not keen to make more and more layers in a health system”.

It is unclear whether Ms Taylor’s remarks only apply to NSW’s rural health workforce, or if regional and metro practices would be included if additional health responsibilities were to be handed to the state.

Some GP services in rural parts of Queensland are operated by the state government. It is also unclear whether Ms Taylor would use Queensland as a model.

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David Rivett
David Rivett
2 months 14 days ago
This is a way forward if done along the lines of the Qld Model I only hope it is just not a thought bubble by the Minister, I have long advocated for differential rebates escalating with remoteness and oncall commitments but the Feds have never looked at doing so and will not in the foreseeable future. Young doctors certainly are attracted by the Queensland Model with it’s Well Paid salaries with generous fully paid annual leave, sick leave, maternity leave, Super, Long Service leave, provision of access to upskilling and skill maintenance, quality premise free of the workload of Practice… Read more »
Peter Bradley
Peter Bradley
2 months 13 days ago
Well said David. And I have for a long time been a proponent of the concept of the fully salaried option being available to GPs anywhere, and not just rural, for all the benefits you just listed. Clearly it is a model which addresses most of the issues detracting from the enjoyment of GP everywhere at present. Done properly, and taking into account the amount of money wasted under Medicare, by over-use and over-servicing, administrative costs, etc, it would probably turn out about cost neutral, which would be very attractive to govts, either state or even federal..?
Dr Tony Plummer
Dr Tony Plummer
2 months 14 days ago

A very complex issue . The RDA should have a significant say . I would be sceptical of the any involvement by the RACGP. Incentives are obviously a principle esp to the families , also Locum relief . Rebates for GPs are a root cause . The incoming government promise computers etc , what we want is rebate of significance with guarantee of increases then we decide how it is spent or taken as income . We are small business owners . Thanks Tony Plummer ( 40 years of general practice and ownership)