This whole issue is a scandal and has been deliberately kept from the Australian people for years. The vast majority of the public definitely don't know this shocking discrimination is going on.
It is the fedgov's dirty little secret - how they use these highly qualified, skilled and experienced Aussie-born and Aussie-trained GPs as cheap fodder for the health system. And no-fair-minded person who has heard about it thinks any different. Half the Medicare for identical work and all that huge responsibility?!!
The plain answer is - what consecutive federal governments have done to these GPs is totally illegal, and this has been proven (of course) in the courts.
To help you further understand this appalling discrimination, please allow us to go into some depth. Bureaucracy takes some explaining...
So. The real aim of this "register" was to give the Australian Federal Government control over the medical profession. They introduced this "vocational register" (a nice little bureaucratic term out of thin air) in 1989: if a GP's name was on the list they were paid normal GP Medicare payments. If their name was off the list they got less. (The amount from Medicare was then frozen forever at 1992 levels if the GP's name wasn't "on the list" by a certain date.)
The federal government said the “register” was only all about "standards" and that, after a certain date, to have their name "on the list" and thus be paid the usual Medicare payments. a doctor would have to go through a "special training program" to be a GP.
The trouble with this was:
1) the 'special training' was lead by all the GPs whose names had been entered on the list. (These are the very same GPs who are identical in every way to these 4700+ Aussie GPs who are only paid half medicare!!)
2) The new "GP trainees” got paid the normal GP Medicare payments from their very first day of “training”!!!! (The irony is sickening: These 4700+ Aussie GPs have been practising for YEARS independently, of course, as they are just the same as all the others who were lucky to get on the governments' list in time in the first place!!! As we've said elsewhere on this site, the reason these GPs didn't get on the list was because they were caring for kids (there are many female GPs not 'on the list'), or caring for sick relatives (such as the Aussie GP who started Fair Go for Doctors - caring for his injured wife, and their little kids, on the pension for a few years while he worked part time.) Others were working in disadvantaged countries (eg: medicsen sans frontiers). Others again were up-skilling: eg: working in hospital emergency departments.
There were a number of class actions by thousands of GPs (noting the original total number of GPs in this dreadful bureaucratic bucket was originally MUCH higher than the 4700+ left now). Of course all the class actions were successful and thus those GPs' names were also put "on the list".
But these particular 4700+ Aussie GPs, as the AMA says, were left in "no man's land": all the same work - all the same skills – all the same responsibility – all the same experience – all the same practice costs – all the same medical liability insurance: but they were paid at 1992 Medicare levels! (Isn’t this sickening...)
Getting back to the bureaucracy. The real reason this "register" was established was to enable the fedgov to cap the numbers of all new GPs and force recently graduated doctors to keep working in hospitals etc if they don't get a place in the "training program" (As we say - it can't be about "standards” as the trainees get the normal GP Medicare payments from their very first day of "training" while these 4700+ independent GPs with full patient responsibility get only half that!!
Further, and quite ironically... Some of these 4700+ Aussie GPs (on half Medicare payments) have been formally approached to themselves be "trainers" of the "GP trainees", (again the “trainees” are all on normal Medicare payments from the fedgov!) Oh - the massive irony of that. As one of these Aussie GPs in this scandalous bureaucratic predicament wrote publicly "I was somewhat taken aback when I was recently approached to become a training supervisor for GP trainees. I was assured that being ‘non-VR’ was not an impediment... I kindly refused the offer, muttering the word “hypocrites” yet again."
Finally - and most ironically of all - recently "nurse practitioners" were granted the very same GP Medicare payments these Aussie GPs have been desperately fighting for - and been constantly denied - for 23 years!!! (Work that one out. So these GPs... i.e.: Australian doctors... are on half the Medicare that these nurses now are!!)
So this "register" was never about “standards” at all...
Thanks again for your interest in this scandal.
These wonderful Aussie GPs' only wish is to keep caring for their patients -
and it's all their patients want too...