The Coalition Government has announced a strong Rural Health Strategy which is a transformational package to strengthen health service delivery and training across Australia, with an investment of $550 million to deliver around 3000 additional doctors, more than 3,000 additional nurses and hundreds of additional allied health professionals over 10 years.
Federal Member for Wide Bay, Llew O'Brien welcomed this announcement and said that the strategy will ensure people living in Wide Bay will have better access to health services.
"This means better qualified GPs, nurses and allied health professionals who will have opportunities, through training and other incentives, to live and practice in towns like ours, instead of remaining in big cities," Mr O'Brien said.
The comprehensive package, to be delivered over the next ten years, will fundamentally change the training and supply of rural and regional doctors.
"This comprehensive Strategy directly supports a continuum for doctors to learn, train and ultimately practise in rural and regional Australia, so that when people living in regional communities need to see a specialist GP, or a mental health specialist, they will be there."
"The Strategy will establish a platform for the National Rural Health Commissioner to develop a national Rural Generalist pathway, which recognises the advanced skillset of rural doctors to respond to a variety of complex medical challenges.
"The Strategy will also continue to reinforce the nursing workforce because we know Nurse Practitioners are essential to delivering health services, particularly in regional areas.
"We are strengthening the role of nurses by enhancing their role in frontline service delivery, which we know will improve patient care and keep pace with the increasing demand for services," Mr O'Brien said.
Minister for Rural Health, Senator Bridget McKenzie said the streamlining of GP training and qualification arrangements will mean more Australian trained doctors will be where they are needed most.
"The evidence shows that the length of time spent in the teaching and training of doctors in rural and regional areas is related to the likelihood of adopting a long term career in these locations," Minister McKenzie said.
Minister McKenzie said to help respond to and inform health workforce needs, the Government is investing in programs to provide an informed, evidence-based foundation for future planning.
"A new planning tool, will for the first time, bring together integrated data on health workforce and services to better inform decisions making where essential services are needed most," Minister McKenzie said.
The Coalition is committed to responding to the challenge of ensuring Australia has the right mix of health professionals to deliver high quality healthcare in regional and rural areas.
For more information on the specific elements of the Stronger Rural Health Strategy, visit the Department of Health website.