A Real Plan to secure regional doctor numbers

16 Dec 2019 media release

A plan to secure the future of the State’s rural medical workforce to ensure regional South Australians receive the health care they deserve has been released by the Marshall Government.

Minister for Health and Wellbeing Stephen Wade said that, as part of the plan, a rural generalist medical pathway will be established to ensure the regional medical workforce can strengthen and grow to deliver world-class care in rural areas.
“It is clear that the most urgent health workforce issue we face is the shortage of rural doctors, particularly in the more remote areas of South Australia,” Minister Wade said.
“The Rural Medical Workforce Plan, developed by the Rural Health Workforce Steering Committee, outlines strategies to help attract more doctors to the regions and back up our country clinicians with the support they need, when and where they need it.
“One of the most important strategies included in the plan is the introduction of a coordinated rural generalist training pathway, which will increase training positions based within rural South Australia.”
The State Government has committed $20 million to develop the rural health workforce and is continuing to support regional South Australians receive the care they need closer to home.
The plan will help reverse years of neglect of regional health by the former Labor Government, who failed to understand the necessity of a structured path to secure medical workforce sustainability. Some of the advancements already implemented by the Marshall Liberal Government include the rollout of Digital Telehealth Network to Emergency Departments, which provides the technology for clinicians and consumers to communicate face-to-face from different locations.
“We have now installed the DTN technology at every Emergency Department across regional SA, with Murray Bridge Hospital the last to receive the technology last week,” Minister Wade said.
“This means all regional Emergency Departments (ED) are now just one click away from connecting in specialists in metropolitan EDs, with this lifesaving technology fundamentally changing the way we deliver health care in the regions.
“With the DTN, ED clinicians are able to easily link with SAAS, MedSTAR, neurology, burns support, and other services for specialist clinical advice, which can be crucial in emergency situations.
“We are improving services and delivering care closer to home for patients in regional areas, while working to secure the future of South Australia's rural medical workforce.”
SA Health’s Chief Clinical Advisor Rural Support Service and Interim Chief Medical Officer, Dr Hendrika Meyer, said the Rural Medical Workforce Plan will make a significant difference to patients living in regional South Australia.

“We know it is extremely important to boost the numbers of our clinicians available across regional SA so communities can receive the medical care they need without having to travel,” said Dr Meyer.
“During the consultation process, over 280 clinicians and stakeholders attended various sessions across the regional Local Health Networks and what we heard consistently was the need for the establishment of a rural generalist training pathway to attract clinicians to work in rural areas.
“As a result, we are focussed on boosting the number of senior doctors and medical trainees in regional areas, expanding intern and resident training capacity in rural hospitals, and linking training pathways to future rural employment opportunities.
“The Rural Health Workforce Strategy is an exciting step towards bridging the gap in healthcare for regional South Australians."
To view the Rural Medical Workforce Plan, visit www.sahealth.sa.gov.au/ruralhealthworkforce