1 January: New pathways for non-VR GPs
The RACGP announced the new Standard PEP pathway which is designed to assist doctors who are working towards Fellowship and have previously been unsupported or found it difficult to get through to Fellowship. Participants will need to remain in the program for at least 18 months before taking exams and will need to work in a MMM2+ area unless they were in a previous 3GA program.
This means that non-VR GPs need to engage with the RACGP well before taking exams and will receive some support from mentors engaged through the RVTS. There are significant costs associated with this pathway but GPs will have access to A1 billing rights.
In addition, the Department of Health introduced the MDRAP program – also for MMM2-7 areas. There are few hurdles to entry and GPs will be able to bill at 80% of the A1 rates unless they have been grandfathered through ROMPS or some other program.
11 March: Visas linked to location
In addition to the widely publicised goal to reduce the immigration quota for Medical Practitioners by 355 in the next immigration year, visas were linked to location for the first time. This restriction only applies to GPs and RMOs.
As a result for GPs to move over to Australia on a TSS visa (temporary) they will need to be able to be sponsored by a practice – as has been the case in the past. However, under the new regulations, in order for a practice to be able to sponsor, they need apply and be granted a Health Workforce Certificate. A HWC is likely to only be granted to a more rural or regional location. At this stage, it appears that most locations that are MMM2+ have been approved for HWC, but almost no MMM1 areas have been recognised.
The best workaround for this is a Permanent Residency visa and in the past, UK/Irish GPs were able to get these very easily. At the same time, the immigration department started reducing the number of 189 visas issued for all occupations. There was a small increase in July, but the current visa grants remain extremely low. You can follow the trends on the link below.
In some states, particularly, ACT, South Australia and Tasmania, GPs will be prioritised for state sponsored visas, but usually only once they have started working there.
Prior to this, the requirements for the TSS visa were also increased and many practices found the Labour Market Testing regime very difficult and time consuming. In addition, the visa application fees where increased dramatically.
1 July: SAPP program closed
The Special Approved Placement Program for Non-VR GPs was closed to any new applicants.
The Department will no longer consider any special circumstances for Non-VR GPs, instead they will need to apply to either the PEP, MDRAP or other 3GA programs.
1 July: DWS converted to a more limited DPA program
The new Distribution Priority Areas (DPA) were announced and basically excluded any MMM1 areas. In each capital city, only one or two tiny pockets remain.
At the same time, the catchment areas were reviewed and increased in size – thus improving the overall average number of GP services for a locality.
The Department of Health announced that the new benchmark for adequate supply of GP services had been shifted to the average availability of GPs in MMM2 areas – automatically cutting out most MMM1 areas.
1 September: New Specialist recognition program for UK/Irish GPs
As at 1st September 2019, the RACGP will introduce a Specialist Stream of the Practice Experience Program (PEP) – please see link below. GPs will still be able to bill full VR rates and will be granted the full FRACGP at the end of 6-12 month’s work in Australia.
16 November: New Regional visas to be introduced
The Australian Government has announced that new regional visas will be introduced. Our migration agents have indicated that the definition of ‘regional’ will be by postcode and will basically include any areas outside the large metropolitan state capitals. The visa incentives will be designed to encourage overseas migrants to settle in those areas long term, but details are still
Disclaimer: This information has been compiled using the best information we have available at present. We recommend that practice owners verify details before making key business decisions. The current environment is uncertain as many of the new programs remain untested. It is difficult to predict how specific policies will be implemented and whether there will be further changes.