More trainees welcome but rural incentives a priority
THE imminent expansion of the GP workforce must include strategies to ensure new doctors head to those areas where they are needed most, rural doctors say.
RDAA and ACRRM have both welcomed the pledge to boost training numbers but warned that funding must go toward encouraging new doctors to practise in the bush.
“We need to make sure that rural practice is financially viable so that [GP registrars] are actually going to want to join us in the future,” said RDAA president Dr Nola Maxfield.
“There should be a loading on Medicare for services delivered in rural communities. This should be available to GPs and specialists who are out there, and the more remote you go, the higher it should be.
“We also need to make sure that there is good professional support so that training in rural communities is actually worthwhile.”
ACRRM president Dr Jeff Ayton added it was vital to support rural general practices so they were able to host GP registrars.
Resources needed to be directed towards improving infrastructure such as consulting rooms, equipment and accommodation for GPs in training, he said.
Prime Minister Kevin Rudd and Health Minister Nicola Roxon said last week that priority for training places would be given to areas of need, but they are yet to outline the specifics.
Rural Health Workforce Australia CEO Dr Kim Webber (PhD) added that many rural GPs worked alone and would need additional support to host junior doctors and registrars.