President, Dr Andrew Pesce, said today that the new Bill would fix some of the
glaring anomalies in a scheme that is being increasingly questioned by the
medical profession and the community.
Pesce said the AMA had written to Health Minister, Nicola Roxon, last month in
support of proposed changes to the Health Insurance Act, especially around the
so-called "10-year moratorium", whereby International Medical Graduates (IMGs)
must work in a district of workforce shortage for a minimum period of 10 years.
• The legislation will be amended so the moratorium
starts from when the doctor first gains medical registration (not upon gaining
permanent residency, as is the situation currently);
• New Zealand residents who study medicine in Australia
and choose to stay will not be subject to the moratorium; and
• Australian residents who study medicine in New
Zealand and then return to Australia will no longer be subject to the
Department of Health and Ageing is also implementing streamlined administrative
processes, which mean that many IMGs will no longer have to apply for a
provider number every few years.
Pesce said the AMA is pleased that these changes are reflected in the Bill
introduced to Parliament today, but they should be considered as just the
AMA has identified a series of issues and inconsistencies around the operation
of a scheme that effects IMGs working in Australia, and we believe these should
be investigated further," Dr Pesce said.
make a valuable contribution to the medical workforce, particularly in rural
and remote Australia because of the long-term shortage of GPs and specialists
in these areas.
doctors need more support to enable them to improve their contribution to
patient care and to encourage them to seek a permanent place in the medical
workforce - and we need to send a strong message to rural communities that
every effort is being made to ensure they have access to quality care from a
"The AMA believes that all doctors and their
families should be treated with dignity and fairness while they are working in
Australia. Our Federal Council will be discussing the Bill and other matters
relating to IMGs when it meets in Canberra early next month," Dr Pesce said.