Funding boost for rural GP training welcomed

Jolyon Attwooll

24/07/2023 4:09:03 PM

Around 340 doctors will be funded to go on rural placements run through the John Flynn Prevocational Doctor Program.

Thursday Island
Healthcare workforce shortages are particularly challenging in regional and remote areas.

The RACGP has welcomed an injection of Federal Government funding that is expected to help 340 junior doctors undertake regional and rural general practice placements over the next two years.
The $17 million funding has been provided to Queensland Health and will allow the doctors to take part in the John Flynn Prevocational Doctor Program, an initiative designed to expose more doctors to medicine outside of metropolitan areas.
Those involved in the program will be employed by Queensland Hospital and Health Services to carry out a rotation at a rural general practice or another approved primary care facility. 
Wide Bay, Townsville, Mackay, Darling Downs, Central Queensland, and Cairns and Hinterland are among the areas earmarked for inclusion, alongside Bamaga, Thursday Island, Cooktown Hospital and primary care services in Far North Queensland.
RACGP President Dr Nicole Higgins said healthcare workforce shortages in primary care, including GPs, nurses and pharmacists, are ‘particularly acute’ outside the big cities.
‘We know that doctors who train in rural communities and get a taste of rural life are more likely to stay on there, and the RACGP has long called for support for prevocational placements to meet community needs – you can’t be what you can’t see,’ she said.
‘We need a strong primary care workforce with enough GPs in every community.
‘Funding for programs that support GPs to train or move to regional, rural, and remote communities can help.’
She said that while rural GP work can be ‘so rewarding’, the move also brings challenges for those moving to areas outside of the city with their partners and children.
More GPs being trained in Australia is another part of the solution, according to Dr Higgins, who said adequate funding and the perception of general practice as an attractive career choice are key.
According to Dr Higgins, another part of the solution is to reduce bureaucracy for overseas doctors looking to work in Australia.
Federal Assistant Minister for Rural and Regional Health Emma McBride said expanding the training available will improve healthcare access in more remote areas.
‘We know that maximising rural training opportunities leads to students far more likely to choose to practise in rural and regional communities,’ she said.
The John Flynn Prevocational Doctor Program was consolidated from the Rural Junior Doctor Training Innovation Fund (RJDTIF) funds, and began at the start of 2023.
The number of rural primary care rotations run through the program for hospital-based doctors is set to increase from 110 full-time equivalent positions in 2022 to 200 by 2025.
Last month, the Federal Government also confirmed funding for 80 extra medical students to be trained in regional areas each year.
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Dr Mina   25/07/2023 8:23:10 AM

As an overseas GP who has started the limited registration after being known as suitable for practice as a GP in Australia, not only have I not seen any improvement in the process of getting a new GP, but also I have seen more fraud showing that the rural practices offer the positions to the unqualified onshore doctors before our registration is completed. The Australian general practice has to reconsider the very long process of assessing overseas GPs by AHPRA which would inevitably lead to take onshore candidates despite overseas candidates already applying for the position. that is neither ethical nor fair. this is definitely an ineffective process and the news is of no value as I have been preparing to practice as a GP in Australia for the past 4 years and they still give the positions to many candidates at the same time.