Govt to inject 400 rural doctors into health system

Govt to inject 400 rural doctors into health system

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The $50-million program focuses on rural generalist GPs - rather than medical specialists - as their training allows them to provide medical care in a wider range of circumstances.

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THE federal government will fund up to 400 general practitioners to train and work in regional Australia over the next four year, in an effort to combat the rural doctor shortage.

The $50-million program focuses on rural generalist GPs - rather than medical specialists - as their training allows them to provide medical care in a wider range of circumstances.

Regional Health Minister Mark Coulton training doctors to have a broad skill set was a "very real and permanent way" to tackle the health workforce issues faced by rural communities.

"By providing more rural training places, we will open more GPs' eyes to the significant benefits of being a rural generalist and living in a regional community," Mr Coulton said.

The Australian College of Rural and Remote Medicine will train up to 100 rural generalists each year.

ACRRM president Sarah Chalmers the training program would help correct the maldistribution of doctors in rural and remote locations.

"We are champing at the bit to increase the number of training places, and continue to improve the health of rural and remote Australians," Dr Chalmers said.

National Rural Health Commissioner Ruth Stewart said the injection of rural generalists would go a long way to supporting rural maternity services.

Rural doctors recently called on the federal government to pressure the state governments - who are responsible for providing health services - to protect and re-open maternity services in regional communities.

More than 250 have been closed in the past 30 years, forcing women to travel hours to give births, with some babies born on the side of the road.

"Where there are not skilled and competent clinicians to deliver babies and look after mothers, that's where disasters happen," Professor Steward said.

"Knowing there are going to be another 400 rural generalist doctors coming into the system is a really encouraging turning point."

Mr Coulton said solving the rural doctor shortage in the bush was a complex issue and required a multifaceted approach.

"We know this won't be a silver bullet, but we're laying the foundation for a more prepared and more supported workforce going into the future," he said.

The initial intake of 60 registrars will begin training by the second half of this year.

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