‘Punitive’ regional deal will fail: AMA

AN EXEMPTION for overseas practitioners willing to fill medical gaps in Gladstone is not working, according to health experts.

The region desperately needs cardiologists, diagnostic radiologists, anesthetists, general surgeons and psychiatrists.

To receive a Medicare provider number, overseas doctors must commit to serving in regional or rural Australia for 10 years.

Committing to a regional area will reduce the 10-year moratorium by a year and working in very remote Australia will reduce the term by five years.

Grants and rebates worth up to $100,000 are on offer to Australian doctors willing to commit to regions struggling to fill medical gaps.

Three of the country's top medical lobbyists agree there is room for improvement in the overseas doctor program.

AMA federal vice-president Stephen Parnis said imposing a decade-long work contract on foreign medicos was "punitive".

"We much prefer to have incentives rather than punitive measures to attract people.

"If you impose it like a burden people will do whatever they can to get out of it as soon as they possibly can," Dr Parnis said.

He said foreign doctors needed specialist training to adapt to Australian needs.



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