Bonded Medical Places commonly asked questions

This page contains commonly asked questions for the Bonded Medical Places (BMP) Scheme.

Page last updated: 11 September 2018

NOTE: In this advice, the terms ‘you’ or ‘your’ refers to the participant or the participant’s obligation.

Joining the BMP scheme

The BMP Scheme is open to Australian citizens, permanent residents of Australia and New Zealand citizens who held a New Zealand Special Category Visa on or before 26 February 2001.

Citizenship and residency status are determined by the Department of Home Affairs. Further information about citizenship, permanent residency status and visas can be obtained by visiting the Department of Home Affairs website.

The application and selection process for a BMP Scheme place is determined by the university following the submission of an application to study medicine. BMP Scheme applicants must meet the same entrance requirements as any other student applying for a medical place.

While different universities may seek expressions of interest in a BMP Scheme place in different ways, the opportunity to receive a BMP Scheme place is available to all eligible students accepted by a university into a medical course.

If you require further information on the application processes used by the universities, you should contact the relevant medical schools directly.

Submit by email your:

  1. Updated full residential address
  2. Updated full postal address
  3. Preferred contact number
  4. Preferred email address

After Hours Only Medical Services

Your Deed of Agreement may define a District of Workforce Shortage as including After Hours Only Medical Services. However, the definition of After Hours Only Medical Services in your Deed may specify hours of operation for After Hours Only Medical Services which do not match the hours of operation of such a service in which you may be intending to work during your Return of Service Period. If that is the case, please contact the Department at BMPScheme@health.gov.au and ask whether the After Hours Only Medical Service which you intend to work may be eligible even though its hours of operation are different to those defined in your Deed. If the Department agrees that the service may be eligible, a Deed of Variation to your Deed (to change the defined hours of After Hours Only Medical Services) may be able to be completed to permit you to work there.


Eligible Training

(Only applies to BMP Scheme cohorts – 2015 and earlier. Not relevant for BMP Scheme cohorts – 2016 and later)

Once you complete your medical degree at university, you will commence training to become a fully qualified doctor. This training is broken into two components: pre-vocational and vocational training. You can use your pre-vocational and vocational training placements to reduce your Return of Service Period (RoSP) return of service period is also known as the Return of Service Obligation (RoSO) by up to half, through Eligible Training.

Please note that training undertaken in the intern year cannot be counted for Eligible Training.

If you would like to claim Eligible Training, your pre-vocational or vocational training placement must be located in an eligible area. Eligible areas vary and therefore, to determine where you can do Eligible Training you need to know if you are applying for pre-vocational or vocational training. If applying for vocational training, you will need to provide your speciality college.

To be counted for Eligible Training your training placements need to meet the minimum requirements as set out in your Deed of Agreement:

  • for pre-vocational training: this generally means training undertaken in any location other than an Inner Metropolitan location
  • for vocational training: this generally means training undertaken in Districts of Workforce Shortage (DWS) as defined in your Deed of Agreement
  • the training placements must be for a minimum of three months and a minimum average of 20 hours per week
  • and you must apply to the BMP Team for Eligible Training prior to, or during the training placement. You will receive written confirmation from the BMP Team that your training placement can or cannot be counted for Eligible Training.

Participants should refer to their Deed of Agreement for the definition of Eligible Training and DWS which applies to them. If you require a copy of your Agreement please request this from the BMP Team.

Please note: you must apply to the BMP Team in advance or before the end date of your training placement. If you do not apply in advance or during the placement, the training cannot be counted for Eligible Training and the BMP Team cannot assess the application retrospectively. This requirement is clearly outlined in the BMP Deed of Agreement and is a legal requirement of the Scheme.

For the purposes of the BMP Scheme, all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Medical Services (AMS) within Australia that deliver primary health care to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander populations and receive their core funding from the Commonwealth are also considered to be DWS.

Eligible Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Medical Services (AMS) list.

Current information about the classification of specific locations is available by searching the Doctor Connect map online (www.doctorconnect.gov.au/internet/otd/publishing.nsf/Content/locator).

You must enter the specific street address of the location into the map.

Checklist of documents required from the participant:

Enquiry on eligibility of location for a medical specialty that is not listed on the Doctor Connect website:

  1. Email details of your particular medical specialty and the full street address of the location you are enquiring about.

Please Note: the Doctor Connect website is updated annually in February/March and locations that are currently Districts of Workforce Shortage may be subject to change annually.

If you are enrolled in an accredited vocational training program, please email the BMP Team to provide the name of the college and an estimate of when you will complete your vocational training.

Checklist of documents required from the participant:

Enquiy on eligible training application

  1. Submit by email your completed BMP Scheme — Eligible Training Application Form
  2. Attach a copy of your proof of employment. This could be a copy of a signed Letter of Offer from your employer or your work contract signed by both parties confirming the:
    • Start and end date of your training placement
    • Number of hours worked per week
    • Location / full street address at which you are working
    • Your position title

*NB all letters must be signed by the employer and contracts must be signed by both parties.


Tenure

(Only applies to BMP Scheme cohorts – 2015 and earlier. Tenure is not relevant to BMP Scheme cohorts – 2016 and later)

You can apply to the BMP Team to remain in the location in which you have undertaken Eligible Vocational Training. If you are granted tenure by the BMP Team, you can remain in the same location to complete your Return of Service Period, even if that location ceases to be a District of Workforce Shortage.

If you have not applied for and been granted tenure prior to commencing your Return of Service Period, you may have to move to an eligible District of Workforce Shortage to complete your Return of Service Period after attaining Fellowship.

To apply for tenure, please complete the BMP Scheme —Tenure Application Form prior to, or before the completion of your training placement, and email your completed form to the BMP Team.

Applications received after a placement has ended are unable to be assessed.

Checklist of documents required from the participant:

Enquiry on tenure application:

  1. Submit by email your completed BMP Scheme — Tenure Application Form
  2. Attach a copy of your proof of employment.  This could be a signed Letter of Offer from your employer or your work contract signed by both parties confirming the:
    • Start and end date of your training placement
    • Number of hours worked per week
    • Location / full street address at which you are working
    • Your position title

Return of service period and fellowship

(Only applies to BMP Scheme cohorts – 2015 and earlier. Refer to the FAQ titled Participants who joined the BMP Scheme in 2016 and future cohorts only for BMP Scheme cohorts – 2016 and later)

Also known as the Return of Service Obligation (RoSO).

On attainment of Fellowship, you are required to work as a specialist doctor (including as a General Practitioner) in an eligible area for a period of time equivalent to the length of your Medical course.

You may have reduced the length of your return of service period with approved Eligible Training.

You may be eligible for a further reduction of your return of service period through Scaling.

As a BMP Scheme doctor you can choose where you work, and for whom you work, when undertaking your return of service period. The only requirement is that you work in an eligible District of Workforce Shortage (DWS) for your specialty, including General Practice.

Current information about the classification of specific locations is available by searching the Doctor Connect map online (ensure the DWS layer on the map is selected).

You must enter the specific street address of the location into the map.

Please Note: the Doctor Connect website is updated annually in February/March and locations that are currently Districts of Workforce Shortage may be subject to change annually.

Some specialties are not listed specifically on the Doctor Connect website. If this impacts you, please email the BMP Team with details of your particular specialty and the street address of the location you are enquiring about. The location will be assessed by the BMP Team and you will be notified if it is eligible or ineligible.

For the purposes of the BMP Scheme, all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Medical Services (AMS) within Australia that deliver primary health care to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander populations and receive their core funding from the Commonwealth are also considered to be DWS.

Eligible Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Medical Services (AMS) list.

You must forward a copy of your Fellowship certificate to the BMP Team. You must advise the date you wish to commence your return of service period. This can either be:

  • from the Fellowship date; or
  • a date that you wish to commence provided it is within 12 months of attaining Fellowship.

On receipt of your fellowship evidence, the BMP Team will prepare your return of service period documentation and email this information to you for your review.

The BMP Team will advise if you have reduced the length of your return of service period with approved Eligible Training.

The BMP Team will advise if you are eligible for Scaling discounts.

Checklist of documents required from the participant:

Enquiry on the fellowship/start the Return of service period:

  1. Submit by email a copy of your fellowship certificate, when available and
  2. Advise in the email the date you wish to commence the Return of Service Period provided it is within 12 months of attaining Fellowship

Enquiry on working under salaried arrangements:

Provide by email, at least annually:

  1. a signed letter from your employer verifying the hours you have worked and the full street address of the location(s) at which you work; or
  2. a copy of your work contract signed by both parties verifying the hours worked and the full street address of the location(s) at which you work; or
  3. a copy of your roster/s including hours worked and the full street address of the location(s) at which you work; or
  4. a copy of your payslips from each work location including hours worked and the full street address of the location(s) at which you work (payment values can be blacked out for your privacy); or
  5. a signed and witnessed Statutory Declaration outlining the dates and hours worked, and the full street address of the location(s) at which you worked

Enquiry about working outside an eligible area during the Return of service period:

  1. Email a description of your circumstances, including:
    • information on the kinds of procedures or services required for you to maintain or develop skills;
    • why you have to have access to Medicare benefits when you provide a professional service for the purposes of upskilling or education;
    • why the upskilling cannot take place in your return of service period location;
    • where the upskilling will occur and under whose auspices/supervision;
    • how much time per week is required and for what period of time; and
    • how the skills developed will be used to benefit the return of service period community.
  2. You may wish to attach copies of letters of support from your DWS employer, your signed work contract in a DWS (including hours worked per week and the full street address of the location at which you work), letter of support from your proposed employer in the ineligible location.

By signing a Deed of Agreement you agreed not to render a Professional Service for which a Medicare benefit is payable outside Districts of Workforce Shortage from the date you obtained Fellowship and the time you complete your return of service period.

The definition of "Professional Service" is in section 3 of the Health Insurance Act 1973. You can view the latest version of the Health Insurance Act 1973 on the Federal Register of Legislation online at: (http://www.comlaw.gov.au/Details/C2012C00842)

However, you can apply to the BMP Team for approval to work outside a DWS for up to 12 months post-Fellowship. To apply, please email the BMP Team and describe the personal or professional circumstances relating to your request. The BMP Team will notify you of the outcome of your request.

Checklist of documents required from the participant:

Enquiry on about working outside an eligible area for up to 12 months from the date of fellowship:

  1. Email a description of your circumstances
  2. Advise in the email the date on which you intend to commence your Return of Service Period
  3. Advise in the email the location at which you intend to work during your Return of Service Period

If you are carrying out Medicare claimable work to complete your return of service period, all of your work during the return of service period will be tracked by Medicare using your provider number(s) and you do not need to tell the BMP Team when you change or start new jobs.

If you are working in a salaried position, you do need to keep the BMP Team informed of where you are working during the return of service period. To do this, please email the BMP Team annually to provide evidence that you have worked a minimum of 20 hours a week in a DWS. Suitable evidence can be one of the following:

  • a signed letter from your employer verifying the hours you have worked and the street address of the location(s) at which you work
  • a copy of your work contract signed by both parties verifying the hours worked and the street address of the location(s) at which you work
  • a copy of your roster/s including hours worked and the street address of the location(s) at which you work
  • a copy of your payslips from each work location including hours worked and the street address of the location(s) at which you work (payment values can be blacked out for your privacy)
  • a signed and witnessed Statutory Declaration outlining the dates and hours worked, and the street address of the location(s) at which you worked

If you are completing your return of service period using a combination of Medicare claimable work and salaried work, you only need to keep the BMP Team informed of your salaried work. Your Medicare claimable work will be tracked by Medicare through your provider number(s).

Participants can view their return of service period scaling discount(s), through Medicare’s Health Professionals Online Services (HPOS). HPOS offers improved access to DHS's provider online services and provides access to information concerning your identity, eligibility and details necessary for the processing and payments of Medicare claims. To access the HPOS system, please follow the online instructions at <www.humanservices.gov.au/health-professionals/services/medicare/hpos>

The BMP Team is unable to assist with enquiries on Medicare’s HPOS system.

Participants can contact Medicare for information regarding HPOS on:

  • 132 150 Option 6 - electronic claiming or Health Professional Online Services (HPOS)
  • or contact the eBusiness Service Centre on 1800 700 199 or via email at: ebusiness@humanservices.gov.au

Scaling works by reducing the expected end date of the return of service period. By working more remotely participants can finish their return of service period obligations more quickly. Scaling discounts apply to the return of service period on a monthly basis, providing a participant continues to work in an eligible location and meets the minimum work requirements as per the BMP Deed of Agreement. Scaling is applied based on the location at which a participant does the most Medicare claiming for that month. Scaling is applied at the following rates

Scaling applied to RoSP
Remoteness Area (RA) Category of the work location Scaling Discount Rate %
RA2 10%
RA3 30%
RA4 40%
RA5 50%

No, provided you do not cease work at that location. Once your employment in that specific work location has ended you cannot return to that location (while it remains ineligible) and continue to count the new period as part of your return of service period.


Deferrals

(Only applies to BMP Scheme cohorts – 2015 and earlier. Not relevant for BMP Scheme cohorts – 2016 and later)

You are entitled to a deferral period of up to 12 months for each child born or adopted by you.

You must email the BMP Team no later than 30 days after the commencement of the deferral period, which must include the day on which the child was born or adopted, together with supporting evidence, such as the child's birth/adoption certificate (when available).

The notification must include the commencement date and anticipated completion date of the leave. You cannot provide Professional Services which attract a Medicare rebate while you are on maternity/parenting leave.

You can seek approval from the BMP Team for longer leave periods for special circumstances. Also applicable if the participant is undertaking the Return of Service Period (RoSP):

  • Once you return to employment, you must notify the BMP Team of the exact return to employment date, employment location and address so Medicare can be requested to recommence tracking your RoSP.
  • Once you recommence the RoSP following the maternity/parenting leave deferral you must continue to meet the minimum RoSP obligations.

Checklist of documents required from the participant:

Enquire on maternity/parenting/adoption leave:

  1. Email a copy of the child’s birth/adoption certificate and
  2. Include the start and (predicted) end date of your leave

Yes, you need to email the BMP Team to request extra time to attain Fellowship. Please email the BMP Team an explanation of your personal or professional circumstances. If applicable, please also provide the BMP Team with evidence of your enrolment in an accredited Medical College, including the start and anticipated end dates of the training period.

Yes, you can defer your RoSP obligations to undertake post-Fellowship training:

  • Deferral under 12 month’s duration: you do not need to seek approval from the BMP Team. Please email the BMP Team to notify of the start and end date of the deferral period.
  • Deferral over 12 month’s duration: you must apply via the BMP mailbox with evidence to support your application such as a copy of your post-Fellowship training application/acceptance letter (on letterhead) that states the start and end dates of the training period.

Checklist of documents required from the participant:

Enquire on study deferral (less than 12 months):

  1. Email to advise your circumstances and the start and end dates of the deferral period

Enquire on study deferral (longer than 12 months):

  1. Email a brief description of your circumstances
  2. Attach copies of supporting evidence such as a copy of your training application/acceptance letter
  3. Advise in your email the predicted start and end date of the training

You can apply for special consideration to defer your RoSP obligations. You must apply via the BMP mailbox with evidence to support your application such as medical reports from your treating specialists, how your medical condition prevents you from meeting your ROSP requirements, etc.

Checklist of documents required from the participant:

Enquire on medical deferral:

  1. Email a description of your circumstances
  2. Attach copies of supporting evidence such as medical reports from your treating specialists

Withdrawing from the BMP Scheme

(Only applies to BMP Scheme cohorts – 2015 and earlier.

Because you are withdrawing from the Medical course after commencing your second year of study, the following three options are available to you for withdrawing from the BMP Scheme. You must email the BMP Team to advise under which of the three options you would like to terminate your BMP Scheme place and provide a copy of your university’s approval of your withdrawal:

  1. You can choose to repay a portion of the Commonwealth’s contribution for your place at university. Once this amount is repaid by you to the Department of Health, the BMP Team will issue you a Deed of Termination to finalise your BMP Deed of Agreement. Once the Deed of Termination is countersigned by the department you would have no further obligations under the BMP Scheme.
  2. You can agree not to return to study in an Australian Medical course for a period of five years. If you choose this option, the BMP Team would issue you with a Deed of Termination to finalise your BMP Deed of Agreement. Once the Deed of Termination is countersigned by the department the medical study ban would be your only remaining obligation under the BMP Scheme.
  3. If applicable to your circumstances, you can provide evidence from an independent medical practitioner that you withdrew from the Medical course due to illness or disability. Once this evidence is accepted by the Department of Health, the BMP Team would issue you a Deed of Termination to finalise your BMP Deed Agreement. Once the Deed of Termination is countersigned by the department you would have no further obligations under the BMP Scheme.

Checklist of documents required from the participant:

Enquire on student withdrawal:

  1. Email a brief description of your circumstances
  2. Advise in your email under which of the options under the Deed of Agreement you would like to withdraw
  3. Attach a copy of your university’s approval of your withdrawal
  4. If applicable, attach copies of medical evidence from your treating specialist

If you choose not to complete all of the obligations under your BMP Deed of Agreement, you will breach the Agreement. You will be required to repay a portion of the Commonwealth’s contribution amount for the years that you were at university.

Information about repayments is available by contacting the BMP Scheme.

Your estimated repayment value may be reduced if you have undertaken approved Eligible Training.

Your estimated repayment value may be reduced if you have undertaken part of your Return of Service Period.

To request an estimated repayment value, please send an email to the BMP Team.

You are encouraged to seek independent legal advice before either breaching your obligations under the BMP Deed of Agreement or seeking to formally withdraw from the Scheme.

If you choose to formally withdraw from the BMP Scheme, you will have 90 days from the date of the debtors tax invoice to make your repayment. You can make your repayments in instalments during the 90 day period.

Checklist of documents required from the participant:

Enquiry on withdrawal (other)

  1. Email the BMP Team to formally notify the date on which you would like to withdraw from the Scheme

You can apply for special consideration to withdraw from the BMP Scheme without incurring any penalties. You must write to the BMP Team with an explanation of your personal and professional circumstances and you must provide independent medical evidence to support your application, such as medical reports from your treating specialists, an explanation of how your medical condition prevents you from meeting your obligations under the BMP Deed of Agreement.


Approval to work in a metropolitan location/big city

(Applies to all BMP Scheme cohorts)

No, not unless you have been approved to do so by the Department of Health. As per your BMP Deed of Agreement, once you attain Fellowship you cannot to render a Professional Service for which a Medicare benefit is payable outside Districts of Workforce Shortage (DWS) until the time you complete your return of service period.

You can apply to the BMP Team for approval before you start working if you wish to provide Professional Services outside a DWS area:

  • in the period between the date you obtain Fellowship and the date you commence your return of service period; or
  • to undertake work for upskilling or education purposes once you commence your return of service period.

Applications for approval to undertake work outside an eligible DWS for upskilling or education purposes will only be considered once you demonstrate that you have commenced your return of service period.

You must demonstrate that there is a genuine need and that the upskilling or education cannot take place in your return of service period location.

If you would like to apply to the BMP Team for the purposes of upskilling or education you must provide the following information:

  • information on the kinds of procedures or services required for you to maintain or develop skills;
  • why you have to have access to Medicare benefits when you provide a professional service for the purposes of upskilling or education;
  • why the upskilling cannot take place in your return of service period location;
  • where the upskilling will occur and under whose auspices/supervision;
  • how much time per week is required and for what period of time; and
  • how the skills developed will be used to benefit the return of service period community.

Participants who joined the BMP Scheme in 2016 and future cohorts only

(Does not apply to BMP Scheme cohorts of 2015 and before)

Following successful completion of the medical course, participants who joined the BMP Scheme from 2016 agree to work in an Eligible Location in Australia for a total of 12 months, prior to, or within five (5) years of attaining fellowship. This work can take place from the date you become provisionally registered to five (5) years after you attain fellowship. However, once you have commenced your return of service period:

  • you have five (5) years in which to complete it;
  • you may undertake the twelve month return of service period in periods of no less than 12 consecutive weeks; and
  • you must work full-time.

You can choose where you work but you must ensure you complete your 12 month return of service period obligation in an Eligible Location within five (5) years of commencing it and within five (5) years of obtaining fellowship.

The eligibility of a location for completing the return of service period depends on the training and qualifications you have when you choose to complete it. Eligible Locations are defined by the Modified Monash Model (MMM) or Districts of Workforce Shortage (DWS) classification systems.

The MMM is a classification system that categorises metropolitan, regional, rural and remote areas according to both geographical remoteness and town size. The MMM was developed to recognise the challenges in attracting health workers to more remote and smaller communities.

To search the MMM category of a location visit the Doctor Connect website and search the MMM locator ().

A DWS is a geographical area of Australia in which the population’s need for health care is underserviced. Broadly, a location is considered a DWS if it falls below the national average for the provision of medical services of the type provided by the BMP participant. Areas that are classified as DWS are subject to change, as is the name "District of Workforce Shortage" and the methodology for determining them.

To search the current DWS status of a location visit the Doctor Connect website and search the DWS locator (www.doctorconnect.gov.au/internet/otd/publishing.nsf/Content/locator).

For the purposes of the BMP Scheme, all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Medical Services (AMS) within Australia that deliver primary health care to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander populations and receive their core funding from the Commonwealth are also considered to be DWS.

Eligible Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Medical Services (AMS) list.

Yes, you choose where to work. While the BMP Team does not provide assistance to find placements for BMP participants, you may wish to contact the Rural Workforce Agency in your state to assist you. You can fulfil your RoSP obligation by practising in up to four (4) Eligible Locations for 12 consecutive weeks each, provided that your other RoSP obligations are being met.

Irrespective of whether you have approval to complete your RoSP on a part-time basis or if you are completing it on the standard full-time basis, you are not permitted to provide a professional service for which a Medicare rebate is payable in an ineligible area during your RoSP unless you have applied to the BMP Team and received prior approval to do so.

No, provided you do not cease work at that location. Once your employment in that specific work location has ended you cannot return to that location (while it remains ineligible) and continue to count the new period as part of your return of service period.

Yes. Please write to the BMP Team to request approval of your proposed deferral period. Any approval may be subject to further conditions and the BMP Team may request information from you to substantiate your deferral application.

Yes, but you will be in breach of your BMP Deed of Agreement and you may be required to repay the Commonwealth’s contribution towards your medical education by funding the university to provide your medical place.

You can view the repayment figures for participants who breach their agreement after completing their degree and without having completed their RoSP online (www.health.gov.au/internet/main/publishing.nsf/Content/BMP-2016-or-later-recovery-course-funding-amount)

You are encouraged to seek independent legal advice before either breaching your obligations under the BMP Deed of Agreement or seeking to formally withdraw from the Scheme.

If:

  1. five (5) years after you have attained fellowship; or
  2. five (5) years after you commenced your return of service period;

you have only completed part of the RoSP and you will be in breach of your BMP Deed of Agreement. You may then be required to repay some or all of the Commonwealth's contribution towards your medical education by funding your university to provide your medical place.

You can view the repayment figures for participants who breach their agreement after completing their degree and without having completed their return of service period online (www.health.gov.au/internet/main/publishing.nsf/Content/BMP-2016-or-later-recovery-course-funding-amount)

You are encouraged to seek independent legal advice before either breaching your obligations under the BMP Deed of Agreement or seeking to formally withdraw from the Scheme.

If you breach the BMP Deed of Agreement you will not have to repay any of the amounts the Commonwealth has paid the university for your Bonded Medical Place if you:

  • withdraw from the medical course before the first census date of your second year of study
  • withdraw from the medical course after the first census date of your second year of study due to illness or injury with supporting evidentiary documentation from a medical practitioner
  • are excluded from the medical course after commencing your second year of study with no qualification, provided that you sign a separate deed in favour of the Commonwealth in which you agree that you will not study in an Australian medical course within five (5) years of signing the separate deed
  • discontinue or withdraw from the medical course after commencing your second year of study with no qualification, provided that you sign a separate deed in favour of the Commonwealth in which you agree that you will not study in an Australian medical course within five (5) years of signing the separate deed.

Please email the BMP Team with a brief description of your circumstances for withdrawing and we will assist you.

You can apply for special consideration to withdraw from the BMP Scheme without incurring any penalties. You must write to the BMP Team with an explanation of your personal and professional circumstances and you must provide independent medical evidence to support your application, such as medical reports from your treating specialists, an explanation of how your medical condition prevents you from meeting your obligations under the BMP Deed of Agreement.


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