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Building our regional workforce

Rural Registrar Incentive Program

The towns of Inverell, Moree and Gunnedah welcomed seven general practice (GP) registrars in February 2022 following a successful incentive program.

The program, led by the PHN in collaboration with GP Synergy, funded scholarships to attract and appropriately place registrars throughout the region.

The aim of the Rural Registrar Incentive Program was to identify and overcome barriers for registrars wishing to experience regional practice to assist in alleviating the workforce shortage.

The scholarships provided financial assistance for the registrars, as well as ongoing education, training, and wellbeing support.

Originally offering six scholarships, seven were granted due to demand. Two registrars elected to base themselves in Inverell, two elected Moree and three chose Gunnedah. At the time, none of the towns had hosted a GP registrar in over six months.

The PHN Chief Executive Officer, Richard Nankervis said that while registrars had become scarce, the demand for them continued to grow.

“Registrars provide our regional areas with clinical expertise and support that general practice requires to supplement their existing services.

“The Rural Registrar Incentive Program reinforces the PHN’s commitment to improving regional and rural health.”

General Practice Workforce Incentive Fund

The General Practice Workforce Incentive Fund facilitated Central Coast workforce recruitment, retention, and wellbeing during 2021-22 through a variety of activities and programs.

An Advisory Group of General Practitioners (GPs) met regularly to discuss ideas and endorse project plans with PHN management reviewing plans and approving investment.

The target was the recruitment of 20 new GPs to the Central Coast, which was achieved through recruitment activities by individual practices as well as by offering additional financial incentives through Sea Change program grants.

Outreach activities including school open days were held to encourage school and university students to consider a career in general practice in the hope of improving GP numbers over the longer term. The University of Notre Dame Sydney and University of Newcastle medical students were encouraged to undertake placements with Central Coast GPs. A financial incentive to assist with fuel and accommodation costs encouraged mentoring relationships that could lead to future jobs in supportive general practices.

A Vertical Integration Pilot has strengthened relationships between the PHN, training provider GP Synergy and the universities, while fostering peer-to-peer education with medical students, junior medical officers, registrars and GPs.

Central Coast GPs and registrars reported high-level satisfaction with financially supported professional development that extended their expertise in counselling skills, identification and treating skin cancers, and being able to offer additional services.

Bush GP Grants

In a bid to recruit six new general practitioners to the state’s rural and remote communities, the PHN committed over $250,000 in March 2022 to the Bush GP Grant program. The funding was available to general practices in the Upper Hunter Plains, New England North West and Manning regions.

The grants contained three funding streams including:

  1. Recruitment Starter Grants - $2,500 Recruitment Starter Grants designed to support General Practice in their recruitment activities.
  2. GP Incentive Grants - Provided to the General Practice upon the signing of a new GP from outside of the HNECC PHN region for a two year/minimum three days per week contract.
  3. Welcome Ambassador Grants - To increase retention, each practice receiving the GP Incentive Grant would be allocated a Welcome Ambassador service.

The grants were fully subscribed demonstrating that financial incentives motivate GPs and Registrars to relocate and that DPA status and Health Workforce Certificates are key issues that need ongoing review.

The GPs recruited through the grants program have headed to Wee Waa, Narrabri, Quirindi, Tamworth, Glen Innes and two to Taree.

These grants are one of the many PHN initiatives aimed at addressing the maldistribution of the medical workforce and encouraging doctors to live and work in regional, rural and remote communities.

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