Measures contained in the budget will help attract and retain more doctors to rural and remote areas, the AMA said today.
AMA Federal President, Dr Rosanna Capolingua, said a $134.4 million rural health package announced in the budget showed that the Government has responded to the AMA's call for rural health.
"The Government has recognised part of what is required to help rural communities attract and retain doctors," Dr Capolinuga said.
"GPs moving to rural areas will be eligible for relocation payments of between $15,000 and $120,000. GPs working in these areas will also be eligible for ongoing incentives. The arrangements will be targeted so that GPs moving to, or working in, the most remote areas will get more support.
"An additional 500 communities will for the first time be eligible for payments to help them attract and retain doctors."
Other rural health measures included in the budget include a new national locum scheme, which will provide better relief support for rural GPs and help tackle the risks of burn-out.
The contribution of international medical graduates working in rural areas will also be acknowledged as they will be able to discharge their obligations under Medicare provider number restrictions more quickly if they practise in rural or remote communities. Changes to the HECS reimbursement scheme will also support young doctors who choose a career in rural practice.
Dr Capolingua said governments still had a lot more work to do to ensure Australians in the bush had access to high-quality medical services.
"While the measures announced in the budget are welcome, more work is needed to make sure rural Australians get a fair deal on health. In particular, we need to see a much bigger government investment and real commitment to country hospitals to ensure patients can be provided with the treatment and care they need locally," she said.