25 July 2023

RACGP leaders meeting with local GPs to examine WA’s rural workforce concerns

The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners leaders will meet with local GPs and practice teams this week to discuss Western Australia’s rural workforce concerns.

RACGP President Dr Nicole Higgins, Vice President Dr Bruce Willett, and WA Chair Dr Ramya Raman will meet RACGP members at an event in Perth on Wednesday 26, before heading to Geraldton on Thursday to visit local practices and a rural training school.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health will be the focus on Friday when the group visits Derbarl Yerrigan Aboriginal Health Services, and the final day will see an event for early career GPs.

RACGP WA Chair Dr Ramya Raman said access to healthcare is a top concern for rural communities.

“We know that many rural and remote communities lack local health services, and people’s health suffers as a result,” she said.

“People living in rural communities have lower life expectancies and worse health outcomes than those in Australia’s major metropolitan cities.

“What our rural communities need is a strong and sustainable primary care system, where GPs are supported to work in multidisciplinary teams with allied health professionals, nurse practitioners and pharmacists.

“I’m looking forward to meeting with our member GPs to hear their concerns and ideas to boost WA’s GP workforce and improve care for patients. Nobody knows what needs to change more than the GPs working on the frontlines.”

RACGP President Dr Nicole Higgins said building the GP workforce is a key priority for the RACGP.

“As a custodian of GP training, the RACGP is working hard to grow the GP workforce and make sure there are enough GPs in every community,” she said.

“This problem won’t be fixed overnight, and it requires help from governments to make general practice and rural practice an attractive and viable career. However, I’m optimistic that our approach to GP training, and the new systems and technology we have that gives us a holistic view of community needs across Australia, will make a difference.

“I’m looking forward to meeting with GPs and the people involved in GP training in WA to hear their views on what’s working and what can be done better.

“I’m also looking forward to visiting Derbal Yerrigan Aboriginal Health Services, and meeting with the incredible team there which provides culturally secure primary care, mental health and dental services for Aboriginal families living across Perth. Derbal Yerrigan are a wonderful example of holistic primary care, and we can learn a lot from them.”

Dr Higgins also stressed the importance of Western Australia to the RACGP, and commended Dr Raman’s leadership as RACGP WA Chair.

“Western Australia is Australia’s largest state and home to many regional, rural, and remote communities. As RACGP President and a GP from Mackay, I understand the challenges GPs across WA face. The College exists to support our members and advocate for what they and their patients need. I particularly want to recognise our WA Chair Dr Raman, as she has been working tirelessly to represent WA’s GPs – your efforts are appreciated, thank you.”

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