Super clinic to challenge IMG hiring rules

Townsville is not a District of Workforce Shortage (DWS) but super clinic owner Dr Evan Nicholls, who is expected to open his $10 million clinic in mid-2013, says his original Commonwealth funding proposal referred to his employment of IMGs.

The Department of Health and Ageing tightened IMG rules in September last year to “remove ambiguity” and ensure they could only work in a DWS.

Previously, Dr Nicholls says, non-DWS practices could still apply for permission to employ IMGs under special circumstances. He says he currently has five IMGs working at an interim super clinic, but the new rules mean they cannot get a provider number to work in the official super clinic 2km away.

The department maintains Dr Nicholls cannot hire IMGs in Townsville as it is not a DWS. The matter had its first hearing in Townsville Federal Court yesterday, where a judge ordered the respondent be changed from the department to Ms Plibersek.

The judge