Rural training pipeline is key

Ongoing training opportunities in the bush are needed if governments hope to address the doctor shortage, the NSW Farmers Association (NSWFA) said.

NSWFA spokesperson Lisa Minogue said the shortage had a reverberating effect on health services in rural and regional communities. She said the NSWFA’s members wanted long term vision in health policy, with commitments that went beyond the four-year election cycle.

“While many junior doctors are interested in working in rural and regional NSW, the education training system is such that those doctors are currently obliged to move back to major metropolitan teaching hospitals for specialist training,” Ms Minogue said.

“Consequently, rural and regional NSW are not afforded the number of general practitioner or specialised doctors that urban centres are afforded.

“The state and federal government need to recognise that a one size fits all system does not work for regional and remote communities and a more localised and personalised approach is required.”

Last year the federal government announced an assessment of the number and distribution of medical schools, medical school places and training in Australia.

That assessment has been undertaken, Assistant Health Minister David Gillespie said, and included advice from the National Medical Training Advisory Network and 37 submissions from key medical education stakeholders.

He said the government was tackling the issue of maldistribution on a “range of fronts”, including the establishment of the Integrated Rural Training Pipeline for Medicine to deliver regional training spots, so that doctors could complete more training (including their second medical college degree) in a rural or regional area.

The NSW Rural Doctors Association hoped increased rural generalist training, that aims to streamline the pipeline for graduates into rural training in obstetrics, anaesthetics and Emergency Medicine, would lead to more doctors in rural towns.