For the first time, GPEP 2 and 3 registrars will be eligible for the Voluntary Bonding Scheme next year and Nelson-Marlborough has been added to the list of hard-to-staff communities.
Health Workforce New Zealand will make at least 355 places available in the 2018 intake of the scheme across the listed health professions. This includes 40 new graduate doctors, 20 GPEP trainees, 229 nurses, 56 midwives, six sonographers and four dentists.
Rural General Practice Network chair Sharon Hansen says she doesn’t know the details of the changes, but they sound positive.
“I think people are trying to work outside the square to solve the problem,” Ms Hansen says.
The number of graduate doctors in next year’s intake is down on 2017, which saw 48 doctors on the scheme, but the number of GPEPs is up from 15 this year.
Nelson-Marlborough DHB joins 14 other regions around the country eligible for GPEPs under the scheme. Its designation as a hard-to-staff area excludes Nelson City, Richmond and Blenheim.
Hard-to-staff areas will now be confirmed the year before applications are due.
The scheme was launched in 2009 to encourage new graduate doctors, midwives and nurses to work in hard-to-staff communities and specialties, with other professions added in subsequent years, including postgraduate GPs, radiation therapists, medical physicists, sonographers and dentists.