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Rural doctor shortage given a shot in the arm due to successful registrar incentive program

The towns of Inverell, Moree and Gunnedah will welcome seven GP registrars this February following a successful incentive program. The program, led by the Hunter New England and Central Coast Primary Health Network (PHN), in collaboration with GP Synergy, has 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 provide 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 have elected to Inverell, two to Moree and three to Gunnedah - none of which regions having had a GP registrar in over six months.

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

“Moving to a rural or remote area can sometimes seem overwhelming for new registrars. There is uncertainty of moving to a new area where conditions and lifestyle are unfamiliar. All registrars have reported that the incentive had influenced their decision in choosing the towns. Relocation costs, often paying for accommodation and travel expenses and are a barrier to moving to rural communities.

“Registrars provide our regional areas with clinical expertise and support that general practice requires to supplement the existing services. Practices in NSW’s rural areas have seen a decline in registrars over the past year, leading to an increase in waiting time to access services.

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

Mr Nankervis said “The registrars will commence in their allocated practices in February and that the Primary Health Network will evaluate the longer term value of these scholarships”

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