The Australian College of Rural and Remote Medicine (ACRRM) welcomes the Government’s extension to the Rural Procedural Grants Program (RPGP), asserting its importance in supporting Rural Generalists (RGs) to undertake compulsory skills training and continue to provide safe procedural services in rural and remote communities.
The announcement confirms that the program will maintain eligibility for qualified procedural General Practitioner (GP) registrars to access the program during their training. Additionally, there will be an extension of current activity eligibility criteria that will allow procedural RGs and GPs to continue to undertake accredited online procedural upskilling, previously planned to end on 31 December, for an additional six months.
ACRRM President Dr Sarah Chalmers says the announcement by Minister for Health Greg Hunt and Minister for Rural Health Mark Coulton reflects the government’s strong commitment to growing our RG medical workforce and maintaining high quality care in the bush.
“ACRRM advocated for the extension to the RPGP, which provides support for rural doctors to undertake high quality professional development in their specialist procedural areas,” Dr Chalmers adds.
“The program plays a significant role in ensuring procedural RGs are able to stay up to date and provide safe, high quality care, for patients in our small rural hospitals across Australia and since its inception in 2004, we have continued to ensure it remains relevant and responsive to rural procedural doctor’s needs.
“We’ve worked closely with the government on behalf of rural doctors across Australia to accomplish these changes.”
ACRRM designed the RPGP to overcome the significant additional costs that procedural RGs have in maintaining compulsory CPD in addition to those they must undertake as specialist GPs. The College manages the program alongside RACGP.
The RPGP provides $2000 a day for up to 10 days per annum to offset the costs incurred by registration, travel and accommodation, as well as loss of income while they leave their communities to undertake eligible professional development activities.
For eligible rural doctors, the program grants cover obstetrics, anaesthetics and surgical training. Those also undertaking training in emergency medicine are entitled to access the grant for an additional three days per annum.
Registrar Dr Steve Johnston says: “This is a massive win for ACRRM registrars across Australia. It will go a long way to support our rural and remote workforce to develop and retain the skills they need to best support their communities.”
The Rural Procedural Grants Program guidelines will be updated and re-published by the end of this year.
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