Queensland offers $40k to go into general practice

3 minute read

Today’s Queensland budget from treasurer Cameron Dick offered no sweeteners for general practice this year, but a workforce strategy holds some promise.

In a move to entice junior doctors out of hospitals and into general practice training, Queensland Treasurer Cameron Dick has announced a new incentive scheme for GP registrars.

The measure, which will see GP registrars receive $40,000 in payments over the course of their training, is part of a $1.7 billion health workforce strategy unveiled today.

Rather confusingly, it is separate to the state budget but was released at exactly the same time.

While the granular details of the program do not appear in the 17-page strategy document, The Medical Republic understands that 500 registrars per year will receive the $40,000 in three stages.

Two $15,000 payments will be made at the end of the first and second training years, and the final $10,000 will come when they enrol in their final exams.

Theoretically, the extra money eases the financial transition from a salaried hospital position to general practice.

Queensland isn’t the first to do this; Victoria announced a similar program in 2022 that offered a one-off payment of $30,000 for registrars in their first year of training.

Another $40 million of the workforce strategy money will go toward expanding the existing workforce attraction incentive scheme, through which doctors who move from interstate can earn $20,000 for working for Queensland Health for a year.

Doctors who move to a rural or remote area to fill a Queensland Health post receive $30,000 on commencement and $20,000 each year for two years following.

While this program would have traditionally excluded GPs, the state is in the process of rolling out a single employer model trial for general practice trainees.

General Practice Registrars Australia president Dr Karyn Matterson told TMR that the group welcomed “any move towards base rate parity”, but cautioned against policies that would “effectively drain one state of registrars from the next”.

RACGP Queensland chair Dr Cathryn Hester said the funding was a positive step.

“There’s a clear shift in the state government’s understanding that general practice is absolutely vital for communities,” she told TMR.

“They’re starting to actually back that up with some funding and genuine support.”

Still, she said, the $15,000 per year payments would not go far.

By the RACGP’s math, the average junior doctor will see a $30,000 decrease in their income during their first year of GP training, compared to what they were making at a hospital.

“[The money] is only one aspect of the support that we need to be providing junior doctors,” Dr Hester said.

“Another aspect of that support [should] include access to entitlements like maternity leave, sick leave and study leave.”

The state budget itself held few gifts for general practice, besides $21 million over four years to continue support for a program that places GPs at high schools one day a week.

An extra $13 million over two years will go toward the pharmacy scope of practice pilot operating in the state.

The pilot is set to run until mid-2026.

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