Biloela Dr Ross Woodward (inset) retires in September, leaving a devastating shortage, while the Agnes Water Medical Centre is still empty after two months.
Biloela Dr Ross Woodward (inset) retires in September, leaving a devastating shortage, while the Agnes Water Medical Centre is still empty after two months. Rob Black

No incentives for doctors to come

A FEDERAL Government cash incentive to bring doctors to regional and remote areas is null and void, according to two Central Queensland doctors.

The Federal Government is offering city doctors up to $120,000 to relocate to non-metropolitan areas, however, it’s only $15,000 for Gladstone and $30,000 for Agnes Water.

Agnes Water has been without a doctor for two months and it could be another two months before a general practitioner’s surgery is established.

Gladstone Central Medical Centre’s Dr Stephen Rigby said the incentive was null and void because doctors needed two separate sets of approvals from State and Federal governments to move into an area, with Australian graduates being an exception due to the Australian Constitution.

“You have got to have an Area of Need authorisation and a Workforce Shortage authorisation. One is determined by the Federal Government and the other is determined by the State Government,” he said.

“It doesn’t matter how much you are going to get, if you can’t get to a place in the first place.”

Biloela has been subjected to locums filling the hospital doctor positions for three years, a medical superintendent role vacant since 2007 and another since January.

Biloela’s Dr Ross Woodward, who retires in September, said it was not enough for him to reconsider his retirement date.

“There have been various incentives for years. None of them have worked,” he said.

“A lot of it comes back to training. Most people do their training in cities and they establish families and friends there.”

Federal Member for Flynn Chris Trevor said, under the new system which came into effect on July 1, communities were divided into five separate categories with higher incentives paid to doctors who moved to regional or remote areas.

The incentives include yearly retention grants starting at $2500 for the first year and rising to $12,000 for five years-plus for doctors who relocate to Gladstone.



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