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Review of Voluntary Bonding Scheme timely – NZRGPN

Review of Voluntary Bonding Scheme timely – NZRGPN

“The Voluntary Bonding Scheme is a great concept but the results fall short of expectations for solving staff shortages in the rural health sector,” says New Zealand Rural General Practice Network chairman Dr Jo Scott-Jones.

“While the Network welcomes the small number of doctors in the Voluntary Bonding Scheme (VBS), we support plans to review it and would be happy to contribute to a review of the system,” says Dr Scott-Jones.

”We have high hopes that the VBS will become an effective part of encouraging young professionals into rural practice, and hope that the review results in a system that acknowledges the needs in rural primary care nursing, and is more effective in encouraging doctors into GP training in rural New Zealand than it has been thus far,” says Dr Scott-Jones.

The Network has previously asked the Ministry of Health to consider extending the VBS to include rural primary care nursing as a specialty. “This remains a priority if shortages in hard to staff rural areas are to be eased,” says Dr Scott-Jones.

The VBS is a Government-driven payment scheme to reward medical, midwifery and nursing graduates who agree to work in hard-to-staff communities and/or specialties and medical physicist and radiation therapist graduates who remain in New Zealand after their university studies.

Since the programme began in 2009, 1809 nurses, 262 doctors, one medical physicist and 13 radiation therapists have applied.

Recent data from Health Workforce New Zealand reveals that only six GP registrars to date – from a total of 25 doctors - have received payment for being part of the scheme, which sees doctors paid $10,000 a year for working in hard to staff specialties or areas for a minimum of three and maximum of five years.

ENDS

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