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On the ground in rural SA


Paul Hayes


28/10/2021 2:34:23 PM

RACGP Rural Chair Dr Michael Clements is heading to South Australia to help shine a light on the challenges facing the state’s rural GPs.

Dr Michael Clements
RACGP Rural Chair Dr Michael Clements believes ‘nobody understands the problems better than the GPs working on the ground in rural communities’.

Dr Michael Clements is clear when assessing the GP shortage in rural South Australia.
 
‘[It] needs to be addressed urgently,’ he said.
 
That is why the RACGP Rural Chair is heading to the state this weekend to meet with local GPs in Port Lincoln and Port Augusta, as well as key health stakeholders in Clare and the Riverland Region.
 
‘The lack of access to high-quality primary care has a direct impact on the health of patients. It means people have overall poorer health outcomes and end up in hospital for health issues that could have been managed in general practice,’ Dr Clements said. 
 
‘As Australia’s peak body for both rural and urban GPs, the RACGP is uniquely placed to tackle GP workforce challenges – and the way we do this is by tapping into our members and listening to their concerns. This then informs our advocacy.
 
‘Nobody understands the problems better than the GPs working on the ground in rural communities.’
 
Rural communities across Australia have been facing ongoing GP workforce shortages, exacerbated by the COVID pandemic and an ongoing reliance on overseas-trained doctors.
 
Around half the country’s rural GP workforce is made up of overseas-trained doctors, and visa requirements, remuneration concerns, and the pandemic restricting travel have seen their numbers decrease.
 
South Australia has been particularly affected by shortages, with reports that almost 50 of the state’s regions are in need.
 
‘We are well aware of the challenges in attracting GPs to work in rural and remote communities in South Australia, as well as the very public concerns about the need for better pay and conditions for local doctors in regional hospitals, which has led to critical shortages,’ Dr Clements said.
 
‘I’m looking forward to meeting with local GPs on the ground to hear their concerns and their thoughts on what needs to be done to fix the problems.
 
‘Because everyone deserves access to high-quality general practice, regardless of their postcode.’
 
In April the RACGP released its blueprint for profession-led, community-based training, which aims to attract more graduates to become a GP and do their training in the communities that need them most.
 
‘As a rural GP myself, I know what entices doctors to “go rural”,’ Dr Clements said.
 
‘There’s great variety in the work, and you develop a strong connection to your community and really get to know your patients.
 
‘However, there are serious challenges, particularly in South Australia. We need to do more to attract GPs to work and train in rural and remote communities, and it goes without saying that rural doctors must be adequately renumerated.
 
‘One change approaching that will also help is the transition of the Australian General Practice Training Program back to the specialist colleges, including the RACGP.
 
‘This is an opportunity to reform our [general practice] training system and improve the distribution of GPs for the long-term benefit of communities Australia-wide.’
 
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RACGP Rural rural health South Australia


newsGP weekly poll Which of the below incentive amounts (paid annually) would be sufficient to encourage you to provide eight consultations and two care plans to a residential aged care patient per year?
 
0%
 
1%
 
4%
 
4%
 
34%
 
54%
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newsGP weekly poll Which of the below incentive amounts (paid annually) would be sufficient to encourage you to provide eight consultations and two care plans to a residential aged care patient per year?

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