The NSW Liberal and Nationals Government is moving ahead with its plan to roll out the Single Employer Model, first trialled in NSW to attract and retain doctors in the bush, despite Federal Labor refusing to come to the party.
The Federal Labor Government announced last week it would roll out the program in Tasmania, ignoring multiple requests from the NSW Government to support a full expansion in NSW.
Deputy Premier and Minister for Regional NSW Paul Toole said the program was originally designed by, built and rolled out in NSW because of this Liberal and Nationals Government’s foresight.
“Federal Labor knows we are ready to commence a full roll-out of this program, based on a successful trial that we had already run over the past three years in the Murrumbidgee,” Mr Toole said.
“We are ready to work with Federal Labor to help fix doctor shortages in regional primary and acute care now – the time for talking and trials is over.”
The Federal Government this week proposed a minor expansion of the trial in NSW, supporting two additional areas, however, Minister for Regional Health Bronnie Taylor said this falls well short of what regional NSW needs.
“Today we are announcing plans for a full roll-out across regional NSW under an enhanced model that delivers more rural generalists in more locations within an accelerated timetable,” Mrs Taylor said.
“Under our proposal, people in regional NSW will not have to wait years to see these rural generalist doctors working in our hospitals and our communities; every region will be ready to take on the next intake of medical graduates.
“We’re proposing to rollout a significantly scaled up program, rather than just the two trials proposed by the Commonwealth, with up to 100 rural generalists to be recruited each year across all seven regional local health districts.”
Under the program proposed by the NSW Liberal and Nationals Government:
- The Commonwealth would guarantee exemptions statewide to allow up to 100 places per year, which reflects the size and distribution of regional NSW.
- Flexibility in exemptions that allow Medicare to follow the trainee, not attach to the facility or practice, and apply in different acute or primary services.
- The Commonwealth to agree to support a full roll-out rather than a small trial, on the basis that NSW has already developed and implemented a three-year trial successfully in the Murrumbidgee.
- Annual review to ensure the model supports training and enhances workforce retention, primary and acute care delivery in regional, rural and remote areas.
Mr Toole said there should be nothing to hold the Federal Labor Government back from granting exemptions under section 19(2) of the Health Insurance Act 1973, and it is essential this happens so we can roll this out.
“We are not asking for any funding contribution, simply for the Commonwealth to support our proposal so the people of rural and regional NSW can get the health care they need and deserve,” Mr Toole said.
Last year the NSW Government informed Federal Labor that five Local Health Districts were ready to commence – Western NSW, Far West NSW, Hunter New England, and Northern NSW, and a further expansion of the program in Murrumbidgee.
Since then, all remaining regional Local Health Districts have confirmed they are ready to commence.
The Single Employer Model is commonly known as the Murrumbidgee Rural Generalist Training Pathway or Murrumbidgee model, and was first trialled in the Murrumbidgee Local Health District in 2020.
Since its inception it has been lauded as an important step in giving trainee GPs the chance to work in private practices and local hospitals to provide a greater range of care for local patients.
The model allows seamless transition between hospital and General Practice training placements.
Trainees are employed on up to a four year contract (depending on level of entry to the pathway) and remuneration and award entitlements align with other medical specialty training giving certainty and the protection of the industrial award.