The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) has welcomed a suite of measures to boost rural and regional healthcare but warned that more support is needed to ensure the long-term viability of general practice care outside of our major cities.
The initiatives announced this morning, which form part of the federal Government’s 10-year Stronger Rural Health Strategy, includes $146 million to inject more doctors and allied health professionals into regional and rural communities. $15 million will be invested to expand the John Flynn Prevocational Doctor Program, $9 million will be dedicated to additional training posts outside of community general practice for rural generalists and GP registrars, and $87 million will go towards targeted support for rural generalists via additional education and skills.
RACGP President Adj. Professor Karen Price welcomed the announcement but called for more long-term investment in rural, regional, and remote general practice.
“As the college that represents four-out-of-five rural GPs, the most of any organisation in Australia, the RACGP welcomes any new investment in rural and regional healthcare,” she said.
“It is positive news that the Government has heeded the RACGP’s calls and boosted investment in rural and regional general practice, including new funding for junior doctors taking on additional skills and an expansion of the John Flynn Prevocational Doctor Program. This will help boost exposure to rural general practice, which is a crucial step in encouraging more doctors to take on a career outside of a major city.
“It is important to keep in mind though that the measures announced today will not solve all the challenges facing rural and regional general practice. We have a long way to go, particularly since general practice has been neglected and underfunded for many years.