The objective of the Flexible Payments System (FPS) is to contribute to the recognition and retention of General Practitioners in areas targeted under the Rural Retention Program, by providing financial assistance to eligible doctors either not captured by, or not adequately captured by the Central Payments System (CPS). An overarching principle is that, where possible, doctors should be assisted under the CPS rather than the FPS ie. - where a potentially eligible doctor is accruing eligibility under the CPS, the aim is that they will ultimately be included in the CPS if they meet the conditions of eligibility for that system at some future time.

The FPS is specifically designed to assist doctors in three broad categories affected by limitations to the CPS:

  • those who would have received a CPS payment but for a period of acceptable leave that has caused them to lose accrued eligibility

  • those who have been providing similar services as have been rewarded under the CPS but have not received a CPS payment because these services have been provided through alternative forms of employment not taken into account in CPS calculations

  • doctors in very isolated communities who have received a part-payment under the CPS which, as a result of low Medicare Benefit Schedule (MBS) billing rates for such services, does not reflect their relevant workload.
As at April 2003, temporary provision was made under the FPS to assist CPS recipient doctors in more remote areas who genuinely experience difficulties/delays in submitting their Medicare claims. (See information detailed under Late lodgements of Medicare claims.)

The FPS is not designed to:
  • assist doctors in ineligible locations who consider there is a case for their location to be included in the Program – these issues will be considered separately.
The following principles are designed to provide a guide for Rural Workforce Agencies (RWAs) to identify doctors who are potentially eligible, invite applications, and assess relative priorities for assistance under the FPS.
  • As a general rule, priority will be given to applications from doctors who are:

    1. working in more isolated areas (ie. those areas in higher Retention Payment Categories) and

    2. making a significant contribution to the provision of primary care in eligible locations.