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Rural doctors’ pay deal will benefit patients, Murray Bridge GP says
As president of the Rural Doctors' Association of South Australia, Peter Rischbieth helped secure a deal which should attract more GPs to the Murraylands.
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Country patients should end up with a better standard of medical care thanks to a $188 million funding deal secured, in part, by a Murray Bridge GP.
As president of the Rural Doctors’ Association of South Australia, Peter Rischbieth helped negotiate the new pay deal with the state government.
He hoped better pay and conditions would encourage more doctors to move to regional SA, instead of places like Queensland.
“One of the things that has been a problem is recruitment and retention of GPs in country towns, including remote towns like Pinnaroo and Lameroo ... and even some of our larger towns like Berri,” he said.
“We’ve been running out of GPs to work in general practice, as well as in hospitals.
“We’re really hoping this (deal) is going to attract some people to come and join us.”
The deal will increase state funding for regional GPs by more than $30 million over two years.
GPs who agree to work in remote areas such as the Mallee, West Coast or Kangaroo Island will now get a $50,000 sign-on bonus.
Doctors will also be able to decide whether they’d rather get a fee for service or an hourly rate when they work in hospitals.
In centres such as Murray Bridge, GPs from local clinics are responsible for emergency health care, surgery and birthing support, among other things.
The doctors’ association still hoped to win more concessions from the government, Dr Rischbieth said, including equal workplace benefits for city and country trainee doctors.
But he said this deal, 18 months in the making, was a good start.
Premier Steven Marshall said it would be patients who would ultimately benefit from the deal.
“The agreement is a tangible demonstration of the state Liberal government’s commitment to delivering better health services, closer to home for regional South Australians,” he said.
“This agreement will help us deliver that goal.”
The previous funding agreement for rural doctors ran out in December 2020, but negotiations were delayed in part due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The current state government’s previous investments in country health have included the construction of the Murray Bridge hospital’s new emergency department.