News

Summit to address rural medical specialist shortage


Evelyn Lewin


19/11/2018 3:26:46 PM

Healthcare representatives from all over Australia will gather to discuss strategies and solutions to boost the numbers of specialists out in the country.

Minister McKenzie said the summit aims to examine what is needed to ensure more specialists are ‘able, willing and want to come out to regional communities’. (Image: Mick Tsikas)
Minister McKenzie said the summit aims to examine what is needed to ensure more specialists are ‘able, willing and want to come out to regional communities’. (Image: Mick Tsikas)

Ensuring there are adequate numbers of healthcare professionals in rural and remote areas has been a longstanding issue throughout Australia.
 
Today, the first-ever summit focusing on the issue of medical specialists will be chaired by Minister for Regional Services Bridget McKenzie.
 
‘Having being born and then growing up in regional Victoria, I know firsthand what it is like to not have access to specialist medical professionals when you need it,’ Minister McKenzie said.
 
‘Dealing with acute or difficult medical conditions is tough at best, but is compounded when you are forced to drive hours to the city to seek specialist treatment, frequently without family support.
 
‘I want to use this summit to gather all the ideas together from the experts so I can go back to COAG [Council of Australian Governments] early next year with a comprehensive plan to start tackling the issue.’
 
This work builds on the Federal Government’s 10-year, $550 million Stronger Rural Health Strategy announced in this year’s budget, the biggest overhaul of Australia’s healthcare workforce in decades, according to Minister McKenzie.
 
She said the strategy had resulted in an extra 3000 GPs and more than 3000 nurses, along with hundreds of additional allied health professionals in country areas, helping to improve the ratio of GPs to patients.
 
That ratio, according to the RACGP’s General Practice: Health of the Nation 2018 report, is currently 99.5 GPs per 100,000 population in inner-regional areas, compared to 88.6 GPs in outer-regional areas. Those ratios become more apparent in more remote locations, with only 71.3 GPs per 100,000 in remote areas and 61.5 per 100,000 in very remote regions.
 
Minister McKenzie said this summit aims to examine what needs to be done to ensure more specialists are ‘able, willing and want to come out to regional communities to work’.
 
Minister McKenzie acknowledges the problem of medical specialist shortages in rural areas ‘can’t be solved by government alone, or the medical profession’.
 
‘We need a concentrated effort and close collaboration across governments and the sector to deliver long-term and sustainable change,’ she said.
 
‘In modern Australian society, regional communities and families should not feel like second-class citizens when it comes to accessing the best medical care possible.’



doctor shortage medical specialists rural health



Login to comment