National Farmers' Federation

More funding for rural doctor crisis welcomed

National Farmers’ Federation President Fiona Simson has praised the Coalition on its commitment to bolster the regional doctor workforce, if elected for a further term of Government.

“For farmers and their families access to health care is a deeply troubling issue and one that unfortunately brings into sharp focus the inequity between country Australians and their urban counterparts.

“Attracting doctors and other specialised health professionals to towns and cities outside city bounds is a perennial, complex challenge.

“Telehealth continues to be a valuable option but of course it can never make up for in-person medical care.

“Many towns are serviced by a fly-in, fly-out doctor workforce. This arrangement works well as a band aid, but it’s not a long term viable solution for communities or doctors.”

Ms Simson said the NFF welcomed a multi-million dollar commitment by the Coalition to put more doctors and allied health professionals on the ground in bush hospitals and medical practices.

“The Innovative Models of Collaborative Care program has been successful in taking a new approach to building local medical workforce via stronger linkages with rural medical schools and its expansion is welcomed.

“Particularly positive is the expansion of the John Flynn Prevocational Doctor Program to train the next cohort of junior doctors through placements in rural and regional general practice.

“We welcome investment in the Murrumbidgee single employer model trial to broaden the experience of rural GP trainees to become experienced in specialist areas such as anesthetics, obstetrics, mental health and emergency medicine. The perceived or real inability to specialise has long been a barrier for retaining young doctors in the bush.”

Ms Simson said farming was Australia’s second most dangerous profession.

“Not having adequate doctors and allied health professionals on the ground in hospitals in rural Australia is literally a matter of life and death.

“It’s a monumental impediment to the growth and prosperity of regional Australia.

“Young people and families simply will not call the regions home unless they can been satisfied they can access the care they need.

“More must be done to fix regional Australia’s health care crisis. The Coalition’s $146 million in new funding is a great start,” Ms Simson said.

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