SIGN on bonuses and the flexibility to tailor contracts to fit specific regions are among some of the provisions for regionally-based doctors in a new agreement between SA Health and practitioners.
AMA(SA) vice president and Port Lincoln general practitioner John Williams called the agreement a "win for rural communities".
He said the new arrangement included an increase of 20 per cent in the budget to recruit and retain regionally-based GPs.
"We hope it provides incentives for GPs to work in rural areas," he said.
"For many rural doctors, the agreement will change the way their remuneration works, making rural hospital work more comparable in terms of conditions and remuneration to that received by their metropolitan public hospital colleagues.
"It recognises and reflects the on-call and out-of-hours work that rural doctors consistently perform and increases opportunities for us to influence how our local hospitals manage patient care."
The agreement provides a minimum guarantee that must be offered to a rural GP who also works with public hospital patients as a Visiting Medical Officer.
RDASA president and Murray Bridge GP Peter Rischbeith said 17 of the most remote areas, which often had trouble sourcing and retaining staff, would include a $50,000 sign-on bonus, while in other regions, there would be more flexibility for GPs to negotiate with their Local Health Networks for their overall package and find the balance that worked in those situations.
Dr Williams said flexibility was important with it "not a one-size fits all" situation for different health districts.
This agreement will run for the next two years, with Dr Williams calling it a "trial" to see how such a major change could work.
"We'll be keeping a very close eye on the rollout and will be reviewing it in less than two years time," he said.
Dr Richsbeith said the agreement also included provisions for streamlining internet technologies to improve patient care.
He said there was "still work to do", with conversations ongoing with SA Health and the state government about improving training and teaching opportunities in rural hospitals.
But he said it was great to have the agreement in place ahead of the state election.
"It's an acknowledgment that health is part of rural infrastructure," Dr Williams said.
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