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A pathway to provide regional areas like Gippsland with easier access to doctors and shorter waiting times will receive $62.2 million over four years. The Federal Government has announced funding to fast track the National Rural Generalist Pathway program.

Federal Member for Gippsland Darren Chester said the key issue with Australia’s medical workforce was how that workforce was distributed, with a disproportionate number of doctors practising in metropolitan areas.

“We need to find more ways to get Australian doctors into regional areas,” Mr Chester said.

“Rural generalists play a key role providing regional areas with access to health services by providing general practice, emergency care and other specialist services in hospitals and the community.

“The Federal Government is investing in pathways to get more rural generalists into regional areas to improve services and health outcomes for these communities.”

Minister for Regional Services, Sport, Local Government and Decentralisation Bridget McKenzie said the program would fund initiatives such as coordinated training for rural generalists; and the expansion of the Rural Junior Doctor Training Innovation Fund to provide early exposure to rural training.

She said rural GP practices and hospitals would be supported by increased skilled staff – reducing unnecessary hospital admissions, a reliance on locum services and the need for patients to travel for key services.

The Rural Doctors Association of Australia (RDAA) has welcomed the Federal Government announcement.

The RDAA has been a key driver over the past decade for such a pathway, which will deliver more of the next generation of doctors with advanced skills to rural and remote communities.

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