NACCHO Aboriginal Health Workforce : @AMAPresident launches 5 point plan to build #Ruralhealth workforce

 ” About one third of Australia’s population, approximately 7 million people, live in regional, rural and remote areas. These Australians often have more difficulty accessing health services than urban Australians, leading them to have a lower life expectancy and worse outcomes on leading indicators of health.

Death rates in regional, rural, and remote areas (referred to as ‘rural’ in this document unless otherwise specified) are higher than in major cities, and the rates increase in line with degrees of remoteness.”

AMA President, Dr Michael Gannon

Download the AMA Position Statement HERE

AMA Position Statement on Rural Workforce Initiatives

Picture above AIDA : South Australian University’s past and present Australian Rotary Health Indigenous Health scholarship recipients.

(From left: Ian Lee, Jessica Beinke, Bodie Rodman, Olivia O’Donoghue, Kali Hayward, Jonathan Newchurch, Dr Helen Sage and Cheryl Deguara).

 ” Indigenous medical students have three weeks left to apply for the 2018 AMA Indigenous Medical Scholarship.
 
Applications close on 31 January for the Scholarship, a program that has supported Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students to study medicine since 1994.  The successful applicant will receive $10,000 each year for the duration of their course.
Fewer than 300 doctors working in Australia identify as Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander – representing 0.3 per cent of the workforce – and only 286 Indigenous medical students were enrolled across the nation in 2017.”
 
THREE WEEKS LEFT TO APPLY FOR 2018 AMA INDIGENOUS MEDICAL SCHOLARSHIP see Part 2 Below

Extracts from AMA Submission

There is a strong link between the health of Indigenous people in rural communities and their access to culturally appropriate health services.

The AMA believes that:

  • greater effort should be made to encourage Indigenous people to undertake medical or health professional training, and incentives provided to encourage Indigenous and non-Indigenous doctors and medical trainees to work in rural and remote Indigenous communities;
  • Aboriginal Medical Services should be resourced to offer mentoring and training opportunities in rural Indigenous communities to Indigenous and non-Indigenous medical students and vocational trainees; and
  • training modules, resource material and ongoing advice should be developed for, and delivered to, all medical schools and rural and remote medical practices on Indigenous health issues, Indigenous-specific health initiatives and culturally appropriate service delivery.

Addressing the mal-distribution of the workforce

There are a number of fundamental reasons why rural areas are not getting their fair share of the medical workforce. These include:

  • inadequate remuneration;
  •  work intensity including long hours and demanding rosters;
  •  lifestyle factors;
  •  professional isolation and lack of critical mass of similar doctors;
  •  reduced access to professional development;
  • reduced access to locum support;
  •  hospital closures and downgrading or withdrawal of other health services;
  •  under-representation of students from a rural background;
  •  poor employment opportunities for other family members, particularly partners;
  •  limited educational opportunities for other family members; and
  •  withdrawal of community services, such as banking, from such areas.

In 2016 the AMA conducted a Rural Health Issues Survey, which sought input from rural doctors across Australia to identify key solutions to improving rural health care.

The almost 600 doctors who took part in the survey said extra funding and resources to support the recruitment and retention of doctors and other health professionals was their top priority in trying to meet the health care needs of their patients.

Doctors also said that for there to be genuine improvements in access to health care for rural patients, there needed to be:

  •  funding and resources to support improved staffing levels and workable rosters for rural doctors;
  •  access to high speed broadband;
  •  investment in hospital facilities and equipment and practice infrastructure;
  •  expanded opportunities for medical training and education in rural areas;
  • improved support for GP proceduralists; and
  •  better access to locum relief.

AMA Press Release 9 January 2018

At least one-third of all new medical students should be from rural backgrounds, and more medical students should be required to do at least one year of training in a rural area to encourage graduates to live and work in regional Australia, the AMA says.

The AMA today released its Position Statement – Rural Workforce Initiatives, a comprehensive five-point plan to encourage more doctors to work in rural and remote locations, and improve patient access to care.

The plan proposes initiatives in education and training, rural generalist pathways, work environments, support for doctors and their families, and financial incentives.

“About seven million Australians live in regional, rural, and remote areas, and they often have more difficulty accessing health services than their city cousins,” AMA President, Dr Michael Gannon, said today.

“They often have to travel long distances for care, and rural hospital closures and downgrades are seriously affecting the future delivery of health care in rural areas. For example, more than 50 per cent of small rural maternity units have been closed in the past two decades.

“Australia does not need more medical schools or more medical school places. Workforce projections suggest that Australia is heading for an oversupply of doctors.

“Targeted initiatives to increase the size of the rural medical, nursing, and allied health workforce are what is required.

“There has been a considerable increase in the number of medical graduates in recent years, but more than three-quarters of locally trained graduates live in capital cities.

“International medical graduates (IMGs) make up more than 40 per cent of the rural medical workforce and while they do excellent work, we must reduce this reliance and build a more sustainable system.”

The AMA Rural Workforce Initiatives plan outlines five key areas where Governments and other stakeholders must focus their policy efforts:

·         Encourage students from rural areas to enrol in medical school, and provide medical students with opportunities for positive and continuing exposure to regional/rural medical training;

·         Provide a dedicated and quality training pathway with the right skill mix to ensure doctors are adequately trained to work in rural areas;

·         Provide a rewarding and sustainable work environment with adequate facilities, professional support and education, and flexible work arrangements, including locum relief;

·         Provide family support that includes spousal opportunities/employment, educational opportunities for children’s education, subsidies for housing/relocation and/or tax relief; and

·         Provide financial incentives to ensure competitive remuneration.

“Rural workforce policy must reflect the evidence. Doctors who come from a rural background, or who spend time training in a rural area, are more likely to take up long-term practice in a rural location,” Dr Gannon said.

“Selecting a greater proportion of medical students with a rural background, and giving medical students and graduates an early taste of rural practice, can have a profound effect on medical workforce distribution.

“Our proposals to lift both the targeted intake of rural medical students and the proportion of medical students required to undertake at least one year of clinical training in a rural area from 25 per cent to 33 per cent are built on this approach.

“More Indigenous people must be encouraged to train and work in health care, as there is a strong link between the health of Indigenous people in rural areas and their access to culturally appropriate health services.

“Fixing rural medical workforce shortages requires a holistic approach that takes into account not only the needs of the doctor, but also their immediate family members.

“Many doctors who work in rural areas find the medicine to be very rewarding, but their partner may not be able to find suitable employment, and educational opportunities for their children may be limited.

“The work environment for rural doctors presents unique challenges, and Governments must work collaboratively to attract a sustainable health workforce. This includes rural hospitals having modern facilities and equipment that support doctors in providing the best possible care for patients and maintaining their own skills.

“Finally, more effort must be made to improve internet services in regional and rural areas, given the difficulties of running a practice or practising telehealth with inadequate broadband.

“All Australians deserve equitable access to high-speed broadband, and rural doctors and their families should not miss out on the benefits that the growing use of the internet is bringing.”

The AMA Position Statement – Rural Workforce Initiatives is available at https://ama.com.au/position-statement/rural-workforce-initiatives-2017

Background:

·         Most Australians live in major cities (70 per cent), while 18 per cent live in inner regional areas, 9 per cent in outer regional areas, and 2.4 per cent in both remote and very remote areas.

·         Life expectancy is lower for people in regional and remote Australia. Compared with major cities, the life expectancy in regional areas is one to two years lower, and in remote areas is up to seven years lower.

·         The age standardised rate of the burden of disease increases with increasing remoteness, with very remote areas experiencing 1.7 times the rate for major cities.

·         Coronary heart disease, suicide, COPD, and cancer show a clear trend of greater rates of burden in rural and remote areas.

·         The number of medical practitioners, particularly specialists, steadily decreases with increasing rurality. The AIHW reports that while the number of full time workload equivalent doctors per 100,000 population in major cities is 437, there were 272 in outer regional areas, and only 264 in very remote areas.

·         Rural medical practitioners work longer hours than those in major cities. In 2012, GPs in major cities worked 38 hours per week on average, while those in inner regional areas worked 41 hours, and those in remote/very remote areas worked 46 hours.

·         The average age of rural doctors in Australia is nearing 55 years, while the average age of remaining rural GP proceduralists – rural GP anaesthetists, rural GP obstetricians and rural GP surgeons – is approaching 60 years.

·         International medical graduates (IMGs) now make up over 40 per cent of the medical workforce in rural and remote areas.

·         There is a health care deficit of at least $2.1 billion in rural and remote areas, reflecting chronic underspend of Medicare and the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (MBS) and publicly-provided allied health services.

Part 2 Update

THREE WEEKS LEFT TO APPLY FOR 2018 AMA INDIGENOUS MEDICAL SCHOLARSHIP
 
Indigenous medical students have three weeks left to apply for the 2018 AMA Indigenous Medical Scholarship.
Applications close on 31 January for the Scholarship, a program that has supported Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students to study medicine since 1994.
The successful applicant will receive $10,000 each year for the duration of their course.
Fewer than 300 doctors working in Australia identify as Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander – representing 0.3 per cent of the workforce – and only 286 Indigenous medical students were enrolled across the nation in 2017.
 
“The significant gap in life expectancy between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians is a national disgrace that must be tackled by all levels of Government, the private and corporate sectors, and all segments of our community,” AMA President, Dr Michael Gannon, said today.
 
“It’s evident that Indigenous people have a greater chance of improved health outcomes when they are treated by Indigenous doctors and health professionals.
 
“Indigenous people are more likely to make and keep medical appointments when they are confident that they will be treated by someone who understands their culture, their language, and their unique circumstances
“The AMA strongly encourages Indigenous students to apply for the Scholarship, which, along with the AMA’s annual Report Card on Indigenous Health and the work of the AMA Taskforce on Indigenous Health, is part of the AMA’s commitment to improving the health of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians.”
 
Previous winners have gone on to become prominent leaders in health and medicine, including Associate Professor Kelvin Kong, Australia’s first Aboriginal surgeon.
 
Applicants must be currently enrolled at an Australian medical school, be in at least their first year of medicine, and be of Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander descent. Further information, including the application form, can be found at https://www.ama.com.au/indigenous-medical-scholarship-2018
 
The AMA Indigenous Medical Scholarship was established in 1994 with a contribution from the Commonwealth Government. The AMA is seeking further donations and sponsorships from individuals and corporations to continue this important contribution to Indigenous health.
 
More information is available at https://ama.com.au/donate-indigenous-medical-scholarship. For enquiries, please contact the AMA via email at indigenousscholarship@ama.com.au or phone (02) 6270 5400.

 

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