$550m set for rural doctors

Eyre Peninsula’s health workforce could see a boost over the next 10 years with the delivery of more doctors, nurses and allied health professionals into rural areas across the country through the federal government’s $550-million Stronger Rural Health Strategy.

The strategy is expected to deliver about 3000 additional doctors for rural Australia as well as more than 3000 nurses and hundreds of allied health professionals.

Federal Member for Grey Rowan Ramsey said the strategy was expected to recruit more doctors in rural areas.

“We will be funding more incentives for doctors and nursing staff,” Mr Ramsey said.

“Unfortunately, the call of the city is stronger than rural areas for doctors.

“We will also be providing doctors with the opportunity to upskill doctors operating as general practitioners (GPs).”

Australian Medical Association (AMA) South Australia regional representative Dr John Williams said the strategy would help the Eyre Peninsula.

“I can’t say more positive things about the strategy, any support for rural doctors is great,” Dr Williams said.

Dr Williams said the association was looking at a number of different models for rural health.

“Younger doctors expect different things so the traditional solo doctor is not a model that’s sustainable,” he said.

Eastern Eyre Health Advisory Council president Dean Johnson said while the government’s investment and commitment was welcomed, the strategy failed to address the situation a number of Eyre Peninsula communities were facing without a permanent GP.

“Regional South Australian towns, including Kimba, are crying out about this issue, which has reached epidemic proportions and has the very real potential to affect the livability of these areas,” he said.

“Councils are being forced to spend significant amounts of ratepayers’ money on recruiting and retaining doctors, which is in no way a core business of local government but we recognise the social and economic impact an empty medical centre has on our towns.

“Council invites the federal ministers for health and rural health, and South Australian Minister for Health and Wellbeing Stephen Wade, to come to Kimba to meet with those who are most feeling the impact of having no full-time doctor in the community,” Mr Johnson said.