Govt extends funding for regional GP incentive

Saskia AdystiGreat Southern Herald

The Southern Inland Health Initiative has received further funding after it is due to expire on June 30.

SIHI provides incentives for medical practitioners to work in the Great Southern region to ensure health services are made available for locals who live in rural and remote locations.

Dr Nikki Du Preez, who has practised in between Katanning and Kojonup clinics for more than a decade, is thrilled about the extension. Dr Du Preez said before SIHI, there were only two full-time doctors operating between Kojonup and Katanning.

“We were only able to attract graduates or 457 visa workers — it was really difficult to get anybody,” Dr Du Preez said.

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Since the Government introduced the incentives in the region, there are now 12 doctors working in the area.

“We used to work 12 days out of a 14-day roster — it made such a huge difference,” Dr Du Preez said.

The McGowan Government has locked in a further two years of funding for the incentive, with a baseline commitment of $33 million a year.

Nationals WA Member for Roe Peter Rundle said he was pleased with the Government’s decision to extend funding for SIHI, but expressed concern about its commitment in other regional development projects.

Deputy leader of WA Nationals Jacqui Boydell said there was a lot of uncertainty behind regional development projects as every-thing was still up for review in September’s State Budget.

“I would just hope that the current Government will maintain some priority in regional development,” Ms Boydell said.

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