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New scheme for paying rural GPs

The Health Funding Authority (HFA) has negotiated a new rural ranking scale for recompensing rural GPs.

This move is the latest in a series of measures to address rural health issues. The HFA is spending $6.25 million on rural health this financial year.

The scheme, negotiated with the New Zealand Medical Association and the Rural General Practitioners Network, replaces the rural bonus where rural GPs are paid 10 per cent above the general medical services subsidy

HFA Rural Health Project Manager Julie Martin said the scale would ensure the more hardship a rural GP faced due to issues such as remoteness then the more they would be recompensed up to a maximum score available.

"We believe it's a much fairer system and will help ensure that we can recruit and retain GPs in rural areas."

The new ranking scale fund of approximately $3 million redistributes the existing rural bonus and will result in most rural GPs being paid about $20,000 per year as a rural bonus. There are some GPs who will only just meet the ranking scale (because they're not in remote locations) who will receive about $2000 per year.

The ranking scale will look at things such as:
 * the travelling time from the surgery to a major hospital;
 * on call duty;
 * on call for a major trauma;
 * distance to the nearest GP colleague;
 * travel time to the most distant practice boundary;
 * number of peripheral clinics they attend.

Each eligible GP will be allocated a proportion of the total fund calculated annually and based on their rural ranking score.

The system will be used for the first time in December. GPs will be asked to return questionnaires to assess how much payment they are entitled to. Payment will be backdated if they are eligible. more... From next year questionnaires will need to be resubmitted by the end of each financial year (30 June).

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