‘This redesign is to change the focus away from retaining overseas-trained doctors to fill gaps and getting home-grown and rurally experienced Australian graduates into rural and remote communities
If you just hop off the bus or hop off the plane and work in a regional area that you’re not used to, you need support to get your roots into that community.
We’ve got to embed these professionals into these communities and we want the agencies to be involved in that.’
Agencies that recruit doctors for rural areas will be given financial incentives to hire Australian doctors over foreign-trained ones.
Assistant Health Minister David Gillespie announced on Saturday a three- year, $93 million funding agreement for the Rural Workforce Agency program, which is tasked with attracting, recruiting and supporting medical staff in rural and remote communities.
But unlike previous funding arrangements, which provided $11 million to agencies that had an overseas-doctor recruitment strategy to meet the shortfall in rural areas, agencies will be discouraged from hiring foreign-trained doctors.
Instead, funding will be directed towards hiring Australian doctors and ensuring the doctor is the right fit for the community.
‘This redesign is to change the focus away from retaining overseas-trained doctors to fill gaps and getting home-grown and rurally experienced Australian graduates into these places,’ Dr Gillespie told AAP.
The new direction attempts to solve two problems – official figures suggest Australia is headed for a doctor oversupply of 7000 by 2030, yet rural communities still suffer from a doctor drought.
Overseas-trained doctors have typically been hired to go to rural and remote communities where it is hard to attract Australian doctors, but there have been concerns some foreign doctors are doing only the minimum time required before moving to metropolitan areas.
It comes as the federal government seeks advice on whether to curb the influx of foreign-trained doctors, with Dr Gillespie labelling the status quo ‘unsustainable’.
On Friday, the minister met an advisory group set up in 2016 to assess whether Australia should roll back measures implemented in the 1990s to deal with a doctor shortage, such as bringing in more overseas-trained doctors and increasing medical student places.
The National Medical Training Advisory Network is due to provide its final report to the minister within weeks.
It will also advise on how to redistribute medical schools and training places to address the rural doctor shortage, with evidence suggesting that if doctors do most of their training in a rural community, they are more likely to want to make a life there.
Dr Ewen McPhee, president of the Rural Doctors Association of Australia, says overseas-trained doctors placed in rural communities are often under-resourced, under-supported and lack the skills required for the job.
‘They come from different cultures … they’re often shoved out here because it’s the only way they’re going to get a job,’ he said.
‘We simply have a massive reliance on international medical graduates to fill positions in rural and remote Australia because our own domestic graduates won’t.
‘We have more medical students than we’ve ever had before – it’s time we saw a return on that investment.’
National Medical Training Advisory Network meets with Minister to discuss Australia’s health workforce challenge
Federal Assistant Health Minister, Dr David Gillespie, met in Melbourne Friday with members of the National Medical Training Advisory Network (NMTAN) to progress crucial work on medical education and training in Australia.
“This is about the future of the medical workforce in Australia, and I am determined to get it right,” Minister Gillespie said.
“The Australia’s Future Health Workforce Report – Doctors indicates Australia faces an oversupply of 7,000 doctors in Australia by 2030. Clearly the major challenge now is to ensure the distribution of our medical workforce so that all Australians have access to the services they need.
“The National Medical Training Advisory Network is one of our key partners in delivering the best medical training system we possibly can for Australia.”
Today’s meeting in Melbourne is an important part of the medical school and medical school places assessment process which began in December 2016.
“I am particularly keen to hear feedback in relation to what some of the key stakeholders in the medical profession and workforce think about how we utilise the education and training pathways to attract and retain doctors to the regions.
“Currently our Government is investing significant funds in regional and rural medical training programs and incentives. But we need to do more. A key part of this work is our consultation and discussion with NMTAN.
“I am keen to work together with all relevant stakeholders to make the system strong, and fit-for-purpose.
The assessment of medical training places and distribution will be considered within the context of existing workforce modelling and data, two decades of workforce distribution policies, the expansion of higher education places and the Coalition Government’s priorities to address the maldistribution of medical professionals across regional, rural and remote Australia.
“Having a good distribution of training for medical students is an essential step but once medical students graduate from university, they still have years of training ahead of them. We need to ensure that rural training can continue beyond university.
“At key points in their training and development, the structure of the training system and a lack of advanced regional, rural and remote positions tend to force new doctors back to the cities, where they often settle,” Minister Gillespie said.
“We must ensure access to high quality postgraduate training for the existing numbers of medical students and recent graduates in regional, rural and remote Australia.”
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NACCHO has announced the publishing date for the 9 th edition of Australia’s first national health Aboriginal newspaper, the NACCHO Health News .
Publish date 6 April 2017
Our audited readership (Audit Bureau of Circulations) is 100,000 readers
Contact : Colin Cowell Editor
Mobile : 0401 331 251
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Working with Aboriginal community controlled and award-winning national newspaper the Koori Mail, NACCHO aims to bring relevant advertising and information on health services, policy and programs to key industry staff, decision makers and stakeholders at the grassroots level.