21 Jun 2009

Medical Council welcomes response to bonding scheme

5:49 am on 21 June 2009

The Medical Council says it has been buoyed by a strong response to the government's voluntary bonding scheme.

The programme offers three to five years of financial incentives to graduates who work in communities and specialities with ongoing staffing woes.

So far 893 people - 115 doctors, 683 nurses and 95 midwives - have applied for the scheme. That is two and a half times the forecast number of 350.

Health Minister Tony Ryall says all applicants will be accepted and there will be a second intake of the scheme next year.

The expanded scheme will be funded by means of an additional $7.5 million over five years.

The chair of the Medical Council, Professor John Campbell, is keen to see the incentives stretched to retain the graduates for longer.

"If you can retain young graduates for three to four years in the system here where they've started their postgraduate training ... I think we've got a better chance of getting them back when they go overseas for a year or two after that period."

Junior doctors union curbs enthusiasm

The union for junior doctors is cautioning against reading too much into an initially positive response to the bonding scheme.

The Resident Doctors Association's general secretary, Dr Deborah Powell, is warning that the interest will be from sixth year medical students who are yet to grasp the reality of working as a doctor.

"We surmise a significant number at the end of the first year will probably not stay in the scheme.

"The financial incentive to work as a locum in Australia is very high - $10,000 for a week of nights - and that, put up against $30,000 after three years in the scheme, will probably influence some of our resident doctors."