Vaccinating the nation: state by state breakdown

‘Scrapped and ignored’: City GP advocates for better health service

New advocacy for the improvement of regional and rural medical services have been spearheaded by a Toowoomba doctor, who says more and more projects encouraging health care professionals to move west are being scrapped and forgotten.

RDAA president and Toowoomba GP Doctor John Hall said the Darling Downs, and wider regional Queensland were facing the same set of obstacles every year with no assistance where they need it.

“Over one billion dollars is invested each year into initiatives aimed at improving access to doctors in the bush,” Dr Hall said.

“That we are still facing the same problems, year after year, decade after decade, shows the systemic failure of many of these programs, with existing issues clearly not being solved by the current system.

“We have to see better outcomes from this investment or we’ll just be throwing more good money after bad.”

Dr Hall said the root of the issues began with a lack of staff venturing out to the regions, especially doctors at the start of their careers.

“We want to see programs that are showing positive signs, like the Rural Junior Doctor Innovation Fund, that gets young doctors rotating out into rural practices, expanded, and by a lot,” he said.

Inquiry finds alarming hospital shortages in regional New South Wales: An inquiry into regional health systems in New South Wales has found alarming stories of doctors trying to mend broken bones over video link because of a shortage of hospital staff.
Inquiry finds alarming hospital shortages in regional New South Wales: An inquiry into regional health systems in New South Wales has found alarming stories of doctors trying to mend broken bones over video link because of a shortage of hospital staff.

“We are asking for this to be increased fourfold, from 400 junior doctors per year up to 1600 doctors per year doing rural rotations, and extended from post graduate years one and two right through to PGY3.

“Every rural doctor out there who has provided feedback to us said that the previous program, the PGPPP, made a real difference to their medical practices and the number of young doctors who discovered to rural as an exciting and rewarding career.

“And yet it was scrapped while other, very expensive, programs that deliver few tangible results in actually rural areas, continue to be rolled out.

“This needs to stop.”

Dr Hall also called for the definition of “rural” to be tightened to exclude large regional centres like Hobart, Darwin and Townsville.

“As it stands now, many programs are spread across both regional and rural/remote areas,” he said.

“However medicine in these regional areas is much closer to metropolitan based care, than rural care.

“I can assure you, a patient from Quilpie, Tennent Creek or Dover is going to find it much harder to access a consultant specialist than a patient from a capital city like Darwin or Hobart, or a regional centre such as Toowoomba.

“Going forward there must be a clear delineation so that rural intended initiatives and programs actually reach the rural communities they were intended for, and don’t get tied up in regional centres showing disproportionate results that don’t reflect reality.”

Originally published as ‘Scrapped and ignored’: City GP advocates for better health service