The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) welcomes the Federal Government’s commitment today to increase the number of GPs training and working in rural Australia.
In a speech to the National Press Club today, National Rural Health Commissioner Associate Professor Ruth Stewart committed to increase the number of rural doctors, nurses and allied health professionals training and working in rural and remote communities.
Speaking on World Prematurity Day, the National Rural Health Commissioner also called for more support for rural maternity services.
RACGP Rural Chair Dr Michael Clements welcomed the commitment to build the rural health workforce.
“The RACGP believes everyone in Australia should have access to high quality primary care, regardless of their postcode and whether they live in a big city or in the bush.
“I welcome the National Rural Health Commissioners commitment to increase the health workforce for our rural and remote communities.
“The RACGP has been working constructively with Government to grow the rural and remote GP workforce, and we will continue to do so.
“This includes collaborating with the National Rural Health Commissioner on the rollout of the National Rural Generalist Pathway – which is designed to build a highly skilled rural GP workforce through expanding training in services rural communities need, such as emergency medicine and obstetrics.
“With more than 41,000 members, over 9,500 of whom live and work in rural and remote communities, the RACGP is perfectly placed to support this effort. We will support our fellows and GPs in training who want to further their skills with Rural Generalist qualifications.”
“While Rural Generalist medicine is an important step, it is not the only solution for Australia’s rural GP workforce issue.
“Every RACGP trained GP is ‘rural ready’ to practice unsupervised anywhere in Australia, and we are committed to recruiting, training and advocating for rural GPs, regardless of their chosen scope of practice.
“As a rural GP myself, I know how important it is for rural and remote GPs to have a broad range of skills to meet the needs of their communities, which often don’t have local hospital or specialist services. Our rural members continue to provide crucial care to these communities, with the option of expanding their skillset to through our Rural Generalist training.”
The RACGP Rural Chair also welcomes the National Rural Health Commissioner’s call for governments to support rural maternity services, stop the closure of services and re-establish birthing in rural and remote communities.
“Obstetric services remain a critical need in many rural and remote communities, alongside other services, such as anaesthetics, emergency medicine, paediatrics, mental health, and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander healthcare.
“Rural GPs have an important role to play in the team of healthcare workers supporting someone who is pregnant. Rural birthing services must concentrate on continuity of care and carers, on providing care close to home and giving options for those pregnant to choose the care they want, deserve and need.
“Patients who receive ongoing care from the same GP and healthcare team report better health and satisfaction. If every person in Australia had access to high quality, ongoing care, we’d be a much healthier, happier country.”