Alecto recently wrote to the Minister for Health, The Hon Greg Hunt with a plea to allow GPs on the RACGP PEP program to access the usual 19AB exemptions. The letter, which can be viewed here, requested consideration for several female GPs in Australia to be able to work in metropolitan areas for spousal or family reasons.
Nearly two months after sending this letter, we received a response from Hon Greg Hunt’s department. The response can be summarised in the following excerpt:
“The provisions of the Health Insurance (Section 19AB exemptions guidelines) determination 2019, such as the replacement and spousal provisions, have not been made available to participants of the Practice Experience Program (PEP), as doing so would circumvent the program’s distribution intent. The location restrictions under PEP have been implemented to ensure better workforce distribution.”
“It is disappointing to see the RACGP reduced to a workforce distribution mechanism. We always supported the view that the RACGP is there to provide support, training, and assessment of OTDs to ensure that quality standards are maintained” said Martina Stanley, Alecto Director and GP workforce advocate.
“GPs who need to work in a metropolitan areas because their partners are working as skilled migrants in large organisations, will never be able to work in Australia. ”says Ms Stanley. “Most of these doctors have small children and do not have the option of working in a more remote location as required by the new RACGP PEP program”.
“This is just the latest workforce distribution tool to be developed which include Section 19AB and the Visas for GPs program making the whole experience of becoming a GP in Australia, so confusing that it’s a wonder why people would even try”says Megan Lewis, Registration Manager at Alecto. “Whilst we are lucky to deal with these issues everyday and know the system inside and out, it is a hard world to be an OTD or a practice owner in Australia.”
“Unfortunately, this response was not unexpected. However, we had hoped that maybe, just this time, the human element in this story would be considered.”
We will keep everyone updated with any further developments.