Welcome new SA Health agreement with rural doctors

28 Jan 2022 media release

Member for Narungga Fraser Ellis MP has welcomed the announcement this week that a contractual agreement has finally been reached with SA's regional doctors and SA Health that better recognises the value of rural GPs and in turn, will help secure rural health care delivery. 

“The 20% boost in funding is welcome recognition of the role and effort of rural doctors, and the changes and increased flexibility around how rural GPs are paid that are comparable to metropolitan public hospital doctors in order to properly reflect the on-call and out of hours work of a rural GP, is excellent”, Mr Ellis said.

“More needs to be done to increase the overall size of the regional pool of doctors but this new agreement is a good start.

“As stated when I released my Regional Health Plan in early December, regional health care is the biggest issue facing the Narungga electorate and it is not an exaggeration to say that South Australia’s regional health care system has been in crisis due to the dire shortage of doctors willing to come to the country, and once they get here, stay for any length of time.

“And who could blame them? Working around the clock 24/7 for less pay than metro colleagues and fly in and fly out locums can’t be attractive and has been an impossible sell.

“Key benefits of the agreement include a sign-up of up to $50,000 for a doctor to work in the more remote areas of the state, and whilst I do not have details on how remote is remote, providing capacity for doctors to work for an hourly rate for hospital work or to remain with a fee for service structure has been well received by rural doctors.

“It is hoped that the new agreement reached will translate to sustainable inpatient and surgical and post-operative services in local hospitals and accident and emergency units that is so crucial to rural communities.

“I will be continuing to push for more aspects of my released health plan to come to fruition which includes salaried doctors to replace locums, discerning allocation of Medicare provider numbers to postcodes where recognised medical workforce shortages exist, more incentives for take-up of rural GP training pathways, a redraw of Local Health Network boundaries for more balanced administration, and for State Government to appoint an Assistant Minister for Regional Health.”