Regional Health

Group offers “common sense” rural health solutions


The Rural Doctors Association of Australia (RDAA) has outlined practical proposals to bolster the rural health workforce in its 2024-2025 federal budget submission. It focuses on better supporting rural GPs to train the next generation of doctors.

RDAA President Dr RT Lewandowski said substantial rural health improvements need not require sweeping systemic overhauls. By addressing high-impact pressure points within existing infrastructure, positive change and sustainability can build over time.

One priority area is ensuring fair compensation for unpaid hours rural GPs invest in training medical students and trainees. Streamlining complex supervision funding policies could also incentivise robust instruction.

Other recommendations aim to expand rural exposure for doctors-in-training, grow non-GP specialty access through financial incentives, improve work-life balance via on-site childcare and boost awareness of support programs.

“Improving the attractiveness and accessibility of a rural medical career does not need ‘Go Big or Go Home’ solutions,” Dr Lewandowski said. “While I’m sure many of us come up suggestions to transform the entire rural health sector, the reality is that significant change takes time, and it’s time that we just don’t have when we are looking to address the maldistribution of Australia’s health workforce.

Other targeted funding requests include:

  • Expanding rural medical rotations for early-career doctors, which studies show increase ultimate practice location choice.
  • Incentivising specialists to offer localised rural care through financial backing. Limited rural private markets otherwise deter engagement.
  • On-site childcare at rural hospitals to improve recruitment and retention given community shortages.
  • Adding state rural doctor incentives to RDAA’s Federal calculator. This would provide full transparency into comprehensive location-based benefits.

“Starting small but in the right areas can make a big impact,” Dr Lewandowski said. “We hope the Albanese Government will see that significant improvements can be made within the existing system, and fund these in the 2024-25 Budget,”

Website | + posts

Ritchelle is a Content Producer for Healthcare Channel, Australia’s premier resource of information for healthcare.

Next Up