GPs welcome Queensland Government budget announcement

Royal Australian College of GPs

The Royal Australian College of GPs (RACGP) has welcomed the Queensland Government’s announcement of $40,000 incentive payments to increase the number of GPs in the state.

The College called on the Queensland Government to provide the funding in meetings ahead of the budget and support for the general practice workforce was a key priority in its 2024-25 Queensland Budget submission.

RACGP Queensland chair Dr Cathryn Hester said the incentive would help to ensure all Queenslanders can access a GP, including outside big cities.

“Everyone in Queensland should be able to see a GP when they need to,” she said.

“That means attracting doctors into general practice throughout our state. We have seen far too many general practices close in Queensland, often because of workforce challenges.

“I’m proud of the work our teams put in to achieve this funding, and thankful to the Queensland Government for listening to GPs and their communities. Many of our communities, especially in the north of the state, desperately need this support.”

Last year, the RACGP reported at least 184 closures, disproportionately in rural, remote and regional areas. Closures have continued in northern Queensland, with a further two lost in May.

“Simply put, we need more GPs, especially outside Brisbane and the southeast,” Dr Hester said.

“Unfortunately, doctors leaving the hospital system to their GP training usually take a hit to earnings that can be in the tens of thousands of dollars, and they also lose the parental and other leave they have earned. That doesn’t happen with other specialisations. Australia needs a solution to this, and the Queensland Government has stepped up to help to fill that gap.

“But GPs are far from the only health and medical profession we’re facing a shortage of, especially outside the biggest cities. We’re projected to need significantly more pharmacists, nurses, psychiatrists and other allied health professionals. The Queensland Government’s goal to add 45,000 more nurses, midwives, and allied health workers by 2032 is also welcome.”

RACGP President and Mackay GP Dr Nicole Higgins said the funding will deliver more GPs for the state, including in rural and regional areas.

“This funding was something our Queensland team worked with the State Government to deliver,” she said.

“This kind of funding works, because it helps to cover the pay and entitlements disparity junior doctors experience when they complete their hospital training and commence training in general practice. A recent survey found only 10.5% of final-year medical students have general practice as their first choice of career. The financial incentive will encourage medical students to choose GP over other specialities offering better pay.

“As it stands, most GPs in training don’t get paid parental or study leave. This is a barrier to bringing more GPs into practice, especially for female doctors and those with young families. We called on the Federal Government to fund work entitlements and an incentive payment so GPs in training get the same as their hospital-based counterparts in the 2024 Budget, and we’ll continue to call for action on this.

“That makes it all the more valuable for state governments to step up to ensure their communities all have access to a GP when they need one.”


/Public Release.