THE Rural Doctors Association have applauded the federal government's changes to workforce classification systems, which will help to identify remote areas of need.
Changes were made to the Australian Standard Geographical Classification- Remoteness Area (ASGC-RA) and District of Workforce Shortage (DWS) systems allowing communities with a DWS classification to recruit doctors who could not normally bill Medicare for their services, including medical students.
The change mean classifications are measured every year rather than every quarter.
RDA NSW president Dr David Richmond said the classification is "a whole lot neater and easier."
"There is no way doctors can plan a career based on three months," he said.
"The new system is designed for people to get into areas of need.
"It's about putting people where they need to be."
Federal assistant Health Minister Health Fiona Nash said the new DWS system will identify communities which are under-serviced by using the latest Australian Bureau of Statistics population and medical services data.
"The new system will create more sustainability for towns that fluctuate in their DWS status," Ms Nash said.
The Modified Monash Model (MMM) has been introduced to use current ABS remoteness classification to provide a more specific classification for communities, Minister Nash said.
"The ABS Remote (RA4) and Very Remote (RA5) areas will be maintained in the Modified Monash Model in recognition that these areas face greater challenges than the rest of Australia in recruiting and retaining a health workforce, regardless of how populated the town is," she said.
The changes made to the ASGC-RA has been on the agenda for several years, according to Dr Richmond.
"The previous program was successful, but not in smaller towns," he said.
"It has been difficult for smaller towns who have been incorrectly classified."
Dr Richmond said new classifications would also assist smaller towns in getting Rural Retention Grants.