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HFA allocates rural GP subsidy

The new rural ranking system for GPs is now in place, with the most isolated GPs receiving up to $27,000, and the average rural GP getting up to $10,000.

The Health Funding Authority has sent a letter to more than 300 GPs, detailing how much money they will receive under the new system, which replaces the previous system where rural GPs received a bonus of 10 percent of subsidy claims.

Under the new system, GPs are ranked on factors such as travelling time to a major hospital, how often they are on call, the distance to the nearest GP colleague, and the travel time to the most distant practice boundary.

HFA spokesperson Julie Martin says the new system is a fairer reflection of the different degrees of isolation faced by rural GPs.

"Under the previous system, a GP in Kumeu (north-west Auckland) could be paid the same bonus as a doctor in Karamea (West Coast). Now the more isolated doctor gets paid more," Ms Martin says.

The HFA sent a questionnaire to all GPs in September to assess how much payment they are entitled to. From the results of these questionnaires, each GP was given a ranking out of 100, with GPs ranking 35 or more eligible for the rural practice bonus.

The new subsidies will be backdated to 1 November 1999.

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