29 March 2019

Rural generalist pathway a step in the right direction

RACGP TheHill

An announcement of funding for a National Rural Generalist Pathway has been broadly welcomed by doctors groups, although a lack of detail has tempered expectations.

The Minister for Regional Services, Senator Bridget McKenzie, told the National Rural Health Conference in Hobart the government would commit $62.2 million over four years to fast track the program, which has been developed under the guidance of the Rural Health Commissioner Professor Paul Worley.

The RACGP described the program as a “vital first step towards tackling the shortage of doctors in the bush” .

“The specific training for Rural Generalist GP will ensure that GPs and registrars have the right skills to practice in rural settings and can address the shifting needs of rural and remote communities, such as the ever-evolving needs of mental health and palliative care,” Chair of RACGP Rural, Associate Professor Ayman Shenouda, said.

The Rural Doctors Association of Australia also welcomed the move, although it noted the funding was less than it had recommended.

“Crucially, we still need to see the fine details behind the government’s announcement,”  RDAA President Dr Adam Coltzau said.  “We note the government’s announcement that existing programs like the Rural Junior Doctor Training Innovation Fund will comprise part of the rollout.

“Consequently, we need to ensure that this is all new funding that has been announced, or that existing programs that might comprise part of the total funding for the pathway will dovetail properly to fully support the future success of the pathway.”