General News

Susi Tegen, Chief Executive

Increasing doctor numbers in rural Australia is good for the bush

The National Rural Health Alliance (the Alliance) welcomes the federal government’s announcement of new funding agreements with states and the Northern Territory which will increase the number of doctors in regional, rural and remote locations.

“The John Flynn Prevocational Doctor Program will promote training opportunities for the growth of the rural medical workforce,” said Susi Tegen, Chief Executive of the Alliance. 

“We know that when doctors have opportunities to train in rural locations, they are more likely to want to stay in those areas when they finish their medical training.

“Rural Australians have poorer access to local health care, including primary and specialist care. They are often required to travel long distances to receive care, compared to their metropolitan counterparts. Having more doctors available can make a difference in rural communities.

“We also welcome the priority for high need areas including those that support an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander workforce and service delivery, which is also a strategic focus for the Alliance,” said Ms Tegen.  

The Alliance advocates for better rural medical training as an incentive for the attraction and retention of medical graduates and junior doctors in rural medical practice.

The Alliance also advocates for the funding of a place-based multidisciplinary model of primary health care, called the Primary care Rural Integrated Multidisciplinary Health Services (PRIM-HS) that gives healthcare funding flexibility to communities to address workforce shortages and accessibility issues in rural areas. 

“We see this program by the federal government as a step toward addressing the dire situation faced by our rural communities. The Alliance looks forward to working with the federal and state governments by providing our input and expertise to make this program a success,” said Ms Tegen.

The National Rural Health Alliance (the Alliance) comprises 47 national organisations committed to improving the health and wellbeing of the 7 million people in rural and remote Australia. Our diverse membership includes representation from the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health sector, health professional organisations, health service providers, health educators and students.