Budget axes key regional training incentive for GPS

YOUNG doctors could soon be choosing not to take up a career in regional Australia, after a key incentive program for training GPs was abolished in the federal budget, rural doctors say.

While the Rural Doctors Association Australia welcomed an extra $50 million to help improve infrastructure at rural teaching GP practices, the scrapped program could hit recruitment in regional areas.

RDAA chief executive Jenny Johnson said on Wednesday the budget had removed all funding for the pre-vocational general practice placements program (PGPPP) at the end of this year.

She said the abolition of the program could limit the chances of young GPs having a "positive taste" of rural practice - a key factor in keeping doctors in regional and remote areas later in their career.

A statement about the future of the program, on the Health Department's website, shows the funding will instead be directed to the Australian General Practice Training program, thereby making it available to city doctors as well.

"The PGPPP funding will be redirected to significantly expand AGPT program training places from 1 January 2015. AGPT training places will increase from 1,200 to 1,500 new places per year by 2015," the statement reads.