A transformational package announced by the Coalition Government to strengthen health service delivery and training across regional Australia has been applauded by Member for New England, Barnaby Joyce.
The Coalition Government will invest $550 million in the Stronger Rural Health Strategy which will strengthen local health services and deliver more Australian doctors in rural Australia.
This Strategy will deliver about 3,000 additional doctors for rural Australia, more than 3,000 additional nurses in rural general practice and hundreds of additional allied health professionals in the regions over 10 years.
Mr Joyce said the Strategy will ensure people living in New England communities from Aberdeen to Armidale and beyond have better access to health services.
“The Strategy will provide greater opportunities for Australian doctors through better teaching, training and retention,” Mr Joyce said.
“This means better qualified GPs, nurses and allied health professionals will have opportunities, through training and other incentives, to live and practice in towns like Merriwa, like Tenterfield, like Tamworth, instead of remaining in cities.
“Because the evidence tells us when students complete the majority of their training in a regional setting, they are more likely to live locally and practise rurally after graduation.”
The comprehensive package to be delivered over the next 10 years will fundamentally change the training and supply of rural and regional doctors and will transform medical training in the regions.
Minister for Rural Health, Senator Bridget McKenzie said the streamlining of GP training and qualification arrangements will mean more Australian trained doctors will be where they are needed most.
“This comprehensive Strategy directly supports a continuum for doctors to learn, train and ultimately practise in rural and regional Australia, so that when those of you living in the New England need to see a specialist GP, or a mental health specialist, they are there,” Minister McKenzie said.
“We are also strengthening the role of nurses by enhancing their role in frontline service delivery which we know will improve patient care and keep pace with the increasing demand for services in the New England.”
Expanded and new junior doctor programs will mean that young doctors, after graduation, can stay working in the regions in supported positions and have access to Medicare provider numbers when working in supervised general practice locations.
The Coalition is providing additional support including new funding for allied health, pharmacist and nursing positions in rural general practice, continued rural support funding to retain GPs and better targeting of rural bulk billing incentives.
The Coalition is committed to responding to the challenge of ensuring Australia has the right mix of health professionals to deliver high quality healthcare to those living in our regions.
For more information on the specific elements of the Stronger Rural Health Strategy, visit the Department of Health website.