22 May 2012

Govt to extend rural healthcare bonding scheme

6:30 am on 22 May 2012

The Government says it will extend a rural healthcare bonding scheme in the Budget this week.

Health Minister Tony Ryall says the voluntary bonding scheme, which was set up in 2009 to improve health services in rural areas, is very popular.

The scheme offers medical, nursing and midwifery graduates debt write-offs and cash incentives in return for working in hard-to-staff areas for three to five years.

Labour wants the Government to test how well the scheme's working, by publishing separate statistics so that rural areas aren't lumped together with hard-to-staff areas.

Mr Ryall says the Government's taking a low-bureaucracy approach to the scheme and will get those figures as the graduates apply for loan write-offs after three years.

Some 1400 graduates have signed up to the voluntary bonding scheme.

The Budget will be issued on Thursday.