The Australian Government has announced a new review process to allow general practices to challenge the Distribution Priority Area (DPA) classification for their area. Federal Regional Health Minister, Dr David Gillespie, announced the new exceptional circumstance review with the intent that the review process will help regional and rural areas respond to unforeseen workforce and population changes affecting local GP services.
The review process has been welcomed by the RACGP and the AMA. Similarly, WA Primary Health Alliance (WAPHA), Rural Health West and WAGPET support the opportunity this affords practices to bring critical GP workforce shortages in specific regions to the attention of the Australian Government when considering DPA status.
WA general practices applying for a DPA classification review can request a letter of support from WAPHA, which will support applicants who can demonstrate the following:
To request a letter of support from WAPHA, general practices are required to email their request with the above information to firstname.lastname@example.org and it will be escalated to the Strategy and Engagement team.
For further information about the DPA exceptional circumstance review, refer to the media release and assessment criteria from the Australian Government Department of Health. To find out more about the review application process, visit the Rural Health West website or email email@example.com
The Workforce Incentive Program (WIP) provides targeted financial incentives to encourage doctors to deliver services in rural and remote areas. The WIP also provides financial incentives to support general practices to engage the services of nurses, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Practitioners and Health Workers, and eligible allied health professionals. The WIP is a component of the Stronger Rural Health Strategy.
From early 2020, general practices and doctors participating in the Practice Nurse Incentive Program (PNIP) and the General Practice Rural Incentives Program (GPRIP) will automatically transition to the WIP. An up-to-date rural classification system (the Modified Monash Model) will be used to ensure metropolitan areas will no longer be able to access incentives intended for rural and remote Australia.
The WIP rationalises major workforce distribution incentive payments into two streams and funds the continued growth of the general practice, nursing and eligible allied health workforce in primary care.
WIP - Doctor Stream - Medical practitioners located in Modified Monash (MM) categories 3-7 can receive an annual payment based on services provided within eligible locations and the length of time a doctor has been on the program. Payments will be made directly to medical practitioners, similar to current arrangements for GPRIP.
WIP - Practice Stream - Eligible practices in all locations can receive incentive payments based on practice size and the hours worked by the health professionals at the practice. A rural loading is applied on top of WIP – Practice Stream incentive payments in recognition of the difficulties rural and regional areas face attracting and retaining health professionals. Payments will be made directly to general practices, similar to current arrangements for PNIP.
In early 2020, the WIP will replace the Practice Nurse Incentive Program (PNIP) and the General Practice Rural Incentives Program (GPRIP). The implementation of the WIP was deferred from July 2019 to allow practices more time to adjust their business models in response to changes created by the transition to the Modified Monash Model of rural classification.
While all practice locations will be eligible for WIP - Practice Stream payments, only those practices located in MM 3 to MM 7 will be eligible for the following rural loadings:
Not all practices will be eligible for the maximum incentive payment. The maximum incentive payment is $125,000, with an additional rural loading for those practices located in MM 3 - 7 locations.
Practices that may not be eligible to receive the maximum incentive payment include:
Practices should seek information about their individual circumstances when calculating estimated payments.
Eligible health professionals are defined as the following:
To maintain individual eligibility under the WIP – Practice Stream, all health professionals must:
Practices should provide each eligible health professional’s name, profession and where available a unique identifier* when claiming hours worked under the WIP – Practice Stream. There are additional requirements for Enrolled Nurses and Pharmacists, which are outlined in the Guidelines.
*The unique identifier will be the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA) ID for eligible health professionals required to be registered under AHPRA – these are available on the AHPRA website. If eligible health professionals are not required to be registered under AHPRA the Healthcare Provider Identifier – Individual (HPI-I), may be used, where available.
The WIP - Practice Stream offers you the flexibility to decide on the type of eligible health professional (or combination of health professionals) to engage, and how to engage them.
When deciding upon the type of health professional, it is recommended you consider
Examples of gaps in services would include:
If you are unsure of local needs or gaps in services, WAPHA may be able to provide you with relevant information to assist you in your decision-making. Please contact your Practice Support team member to discuss this.
The form of engagement can be determined by the practice, and the eligible health professional. Arrangements may be through direct employment, contracted, casual, or other means.
The incentive payment does not cover the full cost of engaging an eligible health professional. The WIP - Practice Stream incentive is to support or assist general practices with the cost of engaging nurses, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health workers and health practitioners, and eligible allied health professionals.
The maximum incentive payment of $125,000 only applies to a practice with a Standardised Whole Patient Equivalent (SWPE) of 5000 or more and requires eligible health professionals to be engaged for a combined minimum of 63 hours and 20 minutes per week i.e. it is to support the arrangements of engaging more than one full time equivalent eligible health professional.