RACGP thanks outgoing Rural Health Commissioner

Matt Woodley

19/06/2024 4:52:54 PM

Adjunct Professor Ruth Stewart served in the role for nearly four years and will be replaced by fellow GP, Professor Jenny May.

Ruth Stewart
Outgoing National Rural Health Commissioner Adjunct Professor Ruth Stewart (Image: AAP)

The RACGP has thanked outgoing National Rural Health Commissioner Adjunct Professor Ruth Stewart for her service and welcomed the appointment of Professor Jenny May to the role.
Professor May will step into the role from September, with her appointment announced by Federal Health and Aged Care Minister Mark Butler on Wednesday.
‘Jenny’s experience, expertise and drive will help continue the reforms necessary to build better models of care suited to the needs of people living outside of our cities,’ he said.
‘On behalf of the Government I thank outgoing commissioner, Adjunct Professor Ruth Stewart, for her work to make sure the voices of rural, regional and remote Australians were amplified and listened to when it comes to their health services.’
RACGP President Dr Nicole Higgins also acknowledged Adjunct Professor Stewart for her service and leadership.
‘Thanks to Ruth Stewart for her fierce advocacy, her service, and her leadership in advancing healthcare for rural Australians,’ she said.
‘The RACGP worked with Adjunct Professor Stewart on progressing formal recognition of rural generalism and ensuring rural communities have more specialist GPs with additional skills to improve access to care.’
Dr Higgins also welcomed the appointment of Professor May.
‘The RACGP works closely with the Rural Health Commissioner to improve health outcomes for rural Australians and get more GPs in communities across Australia,’ she said.
‘Rural Australians have worse health outcomes and lower life expectancy than people in cities. There is a lot that needs to be done to change this.
‘Jenny May has been a fantastic advocate for the health of rural Australians for years, and I look forward to continuing to work with her in her new role as National Rural Health Commissioner.
‘Ensuring we have the GPs we need in rural Australia has been a focus for Professor May, and I could not be more confident her expertise will help Australia to meet those communities’ needs in her new role.’
Adjunct Professor Stewart was Australia’s second National Rural Health Commissioner, beginning in July 2020.
A yet-to-be-named acting commissioner will be appointed for the period between July and September, with Dr Higgins using the transition to highlight the college’s role in ensuring that Australia has enough GPs with rural generalist skills and rural GPs working to their full scope in community practices.
‘The RACGP trains 90% of Australia’s GPs in rural and remote Australia, as well as our big cities,’ she said.
‘This year, the RACGP successfully filled 114 general practice training places in communities that hadn’t had a registrar for years with targeted incentives.
‘We have solutions that are attracting GPs to train and live in rural communities.’
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Jenny May National Rural Health Commissioner rural GP workforce Ruth Stewart

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