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  • Ellis Gelios

Prominent regional Australian health chief welcomes latest government scheme to drive doctors into regions

The Commonwealth Government recently announced updates to its new Rural Advanced Skills funding streams within the Workforce Incentives Program, which was endorsed by the National Rural Health Alliance peak body.

Image credit: official National Rural Health Alliance Facebook page

The new initiative will enable eligible doctors to earn additional payments based on the skillsets they are able to service regional and rural communities with, as well as whether they are able to provide emergency care.

Chief Executive of the peak body, Susi Tegen, who originally hails from South Australia's South-East, also backed the latest boost for Australia's regional and rural medical landscape when she appeared on the Country Viewpoint program.

"If we recruit school students that have been to primary school and secondary school in rural areas and have grown up there, then they study medicine which has a rural component exponentially, they're more likely to go back to rural communities which is fantastic," Tegen said.

"We need to do more of that, but then once they come to the country, once they finish their undergraduate medical degree and then they've done their training scheme, often they are one of the very few doctors servicing communities.

"They might have skills in mental health that a general GP that might work in the city doesn't necessarily have or need to have because they can refer to other specialists or other clinicians that are able to support them.

Tegen said it is fundamental doctors with interests and aspirations to relocate to small rural communities and regional centres are financially aided and strongly backed by Australia's medical bodies.

"We really need to support those doctors that work in the country that have to have broader and deeper skills because there's nobody else to help them often," Tegen said.

"So, with this incentive payment that the government has recently released, it's an extension of grants that had been given in the past but now really specialises on rural advanced skills.

"They are things like incentive payments for emergency medicine up hilling between four and ten thousand, five hundred dollars per annum for doctors providing a level of emergency care and emergency after-hours service."


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