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Rural doctors need 'incentives' to stay

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Rural doctors need 'incentives' to stay

Post by shammy on Tue Feb 19, 2008 12:05 pm

19th February,2008

The federal government must boost incentives to keep doctors in the bush if it wants to tackle the rural health crisis, experts say.

Federal Health Minister Nicola Roxon met with representatives from 15 rural health and consumer organisations in Canberra on Tuesday to develop strategies to tackle problems in the bush.

It is estimated that the current shortfall of health professionals in rural and regional Australia is 16,000.

People living in regional and remote areas wait six weeks or more for a standard medical consultation, and also have a life expectancy three years less than their city counterparts.

The representatives called on the government to merge state and federal health funding and do more to keep health workers in the bush.

Rural Doctors Association (RDA) president Peter Rischbieth warned the health crisis would worsen unless immediate action was taken.

"There's a major opportunity ... for the state and federal governments working collaboratively together ... to establish funding mechanisms to ... reinvigorate our health system," Dr Rischbieth said.

"(Until) consistent changes are in place, then unfortunately the health care of rural Australians is going to become more and more difficult and health outcomes are going to continue to deteriorate.

"In a country which is as resource rich as Australia it is really not good news for rural Australians."


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