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Government invests $4.2 million to get specialists in the bush

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The Morrison Joyce Government is investing more than $4 million across country Australia to increase access to specialists for patients and encourage more specialists to undertake their training in regional, rural and remote areas.

The funding will be shared across eight projects that will support more specialists – such as dermatologists, emergency medicine specialists, sports and exercise physicians, surgeons and psychiatrists – to undertake rural and regional placements and training.

Federal Regional Health Minister, Dr David Gillespie said the investment through the Morrison Joyce Government’s Flexible Approach to Training in Expanded Settings (FATES) program will use innovative approaches to better support trainee specialists in locations with shortages of specialists.

“There is strong evidence that undertaking medical training in a regional or rural setting increases retention rates,” former regional doctor, Dr Gillespie said. “The Morrison Joyce Government is rapidly expanding and innovating rural training opportunities not only for non-GP specialists such as this, but for GPs, nurses and allied health professionals.”

“This investment will improve distribution and supply of specialist medical training in areas of undersupply that will also meet the needs of regional, rural and remote communities.”

Minister for Health and Aged Care, Greg Hunt, said several of the projects will trial new methods for supervising non-GP specialist trainees, including remote supervision, rotation of supervisors, and a hybrid model which blends on-site and remote supervision.

“One in particular will be delivered as a consortia approach in collaboration with the Australian Indigenous Doctors Association, to increase the number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people trained as non-GP medical specialists across most specialities,” Minister Hunt said.

Dr Gillespie said he often heard dermatologists and psychiatrists are in short supply in country Australia, and three projects funded in today’s announcement would directly assist with getting more of these two specialities to the bush.

“The Australasian College of Dermatologists will roll out two programs that will boost training opportunities for this speciality in Townsville, Darwin and Katherine,” Dr Gillespie said.

“Psychiatrists are in undersupply nationally, especially in rural and remote areas. The funded project being ran by the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists will employ three specialists that will play a crucial role in implementing the national Rural Psychiatry Training Pathway.”

Projects are located in Queensland, Western Australia, the Northern Territory, with others focused more broadly in rural and remote area across Australia so that all country patients can benefit from this investment.

The FATES program will run for four years from 2021-22, providing a total of $29.5 million for new and innovative approaches to non-GP medical specialist training, and support for trainee specialists to transition to rural practice.

Original content from The Hon Greg Hunt MP media page. Note: Content has been edited for style and length.

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