Towns to benefit from training program expansion

EXPANSION: The federal government's expansion of the Remote Vocational Training Scheme's targeted recruitment pilot will include Eyre Peninsula towns such as Streaky Bay. Photo: File
EXPANSION: The federal government's expansion of the Remote Vocational Training Scheme's targeted recruitment pilot will include Eyre Peninsula towns such as Streaky Bay. Photo: File

A number of Eyre Peninsula towns, including two on the West Coast, are set to benefit from the federal government's expansion of the Remote Vocational Training Scheme's (RVTS) targeted recruitment pilot.

Streaky Bay and Elliston are among 18 regional and rural towns across Australia part of the expansion to attract more doctors to communities.

Other Eyre Peninsula towns include Cleve, Cowell and Kimba.

The pilot will trial new innovative employment models to improve the attraction of GP trainees in rural and remote areas, contribute to better distribution of GP registrars, and support rural and remote communities to attract and retain doctors.

Federal Regional Health Minister Mark Coulton made the announcement last month and said the expansion involved providing wage security to doctors while they train to become GP specialists.

"The federal government understands the importance of addressing GP shortages in the bush and that it requires a range of initiatives that support training, recruitment and retention," he said.

"This particular scheme is one of those initiatives delivering structured distance education and supervision to doctors while they provide medical services in rural and remote locations.

"In the past, many of these towns have experienced difficulties in recruiting doctors, and the government is delighted to help the new recruits join these communities to start work."

The aim of the RVTS is to support medical practitioners to gain fellowship of the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners and/or the Australian College of Rural and Remote Medicine by allowing them to access education and supervision in the pilot locations - where it can be difficult to access training - while they continue to provide medical services to the community.

Streaky Bay Medical Clinic board chairperson Jonas Woolford said this would be a positive for Streaky Bay and would allow for greater supervision of interns in a remote setting.

"It's a great initiative and something that has been a stumbling block for these rural locations, which just don't have the staff to provide that supervision," he said.

"Often our second GP is a locum and that may not be in a position to oversee an intern, and even Dr Victoria Bradley, if she has been on call or had a long night, may not be able to oversee them.

"This allows prospective up and coming GPs in their training years to experience what it is like being in a rural location like Streaky Bay and hopefully that might encourage them, once they finish their training, to consider coming to a place like Streaky Bay."

Mr Woolford said the clinic was exploring its options in relation to the expansion and that it was just beginning conversations with Rural Doctors Workforce Agency.

He said one issue to overcome was that there were not a large number of interns coming through the system.

Mr Coulton said the federal government was testing new models to ensure people living and working in rural areas had access to safe, quality health care, while giving practical support to the next generation of GPs.

He said flexibility for GP training employment arrangements was one of the issues raised by the National Rural Health Commissioner's Rural Generalist Taskforce.