There was also a commitment to bump up the bulk billing rebates for regional General Practitioners (GPs).
In an attempt to incentivise more doctors and healthcare professionals to remote areas and enhance the financial viability of remote healthcare practices, more than $65 million has been budgeted from 1 January 2022 as an incentive for doctors working in rural towns and remote areas.
According to Therese Camm, Executive Director at BDO in Brisbane, someone should be asking whether a financial incentive investment to GPs will be enough.
“Although financial measures are a step in the right direction to address the long-standing and ongoing challenge of attracting and retaining doctors and healthcare workers to regional, rural and remote areas, the Government’s proposed incentive is unlikely to make much of a dent in access to care inequities experienced by patients in the bush.” Ms Camm explained.
“Attracting more doctors and healthcare workers to these areas, reducing current workforce pressures and enabling more available and affordable healthcare to patients are crucial to ensuring the health and quality of life of our regional communities is not put in jeopardy.”
Outside of attracting doctors, additional commitments for continued COVID-19 response support, the National Disability Insurance Scheme, women’s health and mental health will all flow benefits through to regional communities.
The COVID-19 pandemic highlighted the critical need to tackle the mental health crisis facing Australia, so the Government has continued its investment in mental health with a $2.3 billion commitment to mental health counselling and suicide prevention.
Ms Camm said ensuring easy access to these services for those in our regional communities will be vital.
“As with all other health services, access to the right healthcare professional is the challenge for regional patients, so a key measure of success for mental health counselling and suicide prevention initiatives in rural and remote communities will be the availability and access to the services,” she said.
These are just some of the measures from the 2021 Federal Budget.
To learn more about what these and other budget measures mean for you, your family or your organisation, contact a BDO expert today.Jump to next article