Regional SA set to benefit from rural GP training

More than double the number of junior doctors will undertake training in country South Australian hospitals as the Marshall Liberal Government continues to deliver for regional South Australia.

Member for Schubert Stephan Knoll said this week’s announcement that the total number of interns completing their first year of on-the-job training in the country would rise from five to 12 was unprecedented and paved the way for improving regional healthcare.

The initiative is part of the State Government’s $20 million Rural Health Workforce Strategy, which aims to address the shortage of health practitioners in country areas.

“This is good news for regional SA,” Mr Knoll said.

“Renewing our rural healthcare workforce is a lifeline to rural health services and accessibility across the state, including the Barossa.

“Labor’s failure to develop our rural health workforce over the last 16 years was directly responsible for the curtailment of services across country SA.

“The cessation of birthing services at Tanunda hospital was the result of their failure to maintain a local health workforce to support local services.”

The State Government worked with the Commonwealth to secure the seven new intern positions, which are the result of a partnership between Country Health SA, the University of Adelaide and Flinders University.

Health and Wellbeing Minister Stephen Wade said the recruitment process for the 12 positions had completed and the interns would commence their training in January.

“The increase in rural interns will support pathways for both rural generalists and GPs in areas where, traditionally, recruiting and retaining health practitioners has been a challenge,” Mr Wade said.

“By enabling more junior doctors to undergo training in country hospitals and GP practices, we hope they might remain in the country or perhaps consider becoming visiting specialists.”

Professor Jennene Greenhill of Flinders Rural Health South Australia said the additional interns would be well supported.

“On-the-ground support will be provided by our team of internationally-recognised rural clinical academics, local GPs and specialists,” Professor Greenhill said.

After graduating from medicine at university, doctors in their first year of training are required to complete a range of different clinical rotations over 12 months in order to progress to the next stage of their career.

Starting next year, five interns will be based at Whyalla Hospital and an additional two will be based in Mount Gambier, bringing the total number there to seven.

The partnership and funding secures the additional intern positions for the years 2019 and 2020.