Mark Coulton MP, Federal Member for Parkes

Growing more local doctors in Dubbo

Wednesday, 9 May 2018

Dubbo is set to benefit from more medical students training locally following the Coalition Government increasing training capacity in the regions.

The Coalition Government will invest $550 million in the Stronger Rural Health Strategy to address the maldistribution of rural doctors by establishing a medical schools network in the Murray Darling region to support greater training capacity in rural Australia. 

The Federal Member for Parkes Mark Coulton said this is a fundamental change in the training and supply of rural doctors and will transform medical training in regional Australia.  

“For the first time, rural and regional students will be able to undertake the majority of their medical training right here at home, or in other rural areas,” Mr Coulton said.

In addition to University of Sydney (Dubbo), the Murray-Darling Medical Schools Network include University of NSW (Wagga Wagga), Charles Sturt University/Western Sydney University (Orange), Monash University (Bendigo, Mildura); and University of Melbourne/La Trobe University (Shepparton, Bendigo, Wodonga).

The Strategy will deliver high quality health care and provide opportunities for Australian doctors, nurses and allied health professionals through better teaching, training, recruitment and retention. 

Minister for Rural Health, Senator Bridget McKenzie acknowledged the challenges to training and retaining doctors and allied health professionals in the regions. 

“The evidence shows that the length of time spent in the teaching and training of doctors in rural and regional areas is related to the likelihood of adopting a long term career in these locations,” Minister McKenzie said.

“Through our transformational Stronger Rural Health Strategy, we are changing the model to enable students to undertake the majority of their training in rural and regional areas. This provides a continuum for doctors to learn, train and work in the regions. 

“The establishment of the Murray-Darling Medical Schools Network is one of the ways we are working to improve the medical training pipeline in the regions.

“This will be complemented by work already under way by the National Rural Health Commissioner to develop the National Rural Generalist Pathway to channel future rural specialists into the regions.”

Medical Commonwealth supported places will be redirected by participating universities through a reallocation process. 

“We know there is a growing supply of doctors in Australia and importantly there will be no new medical places established ­– the focus is strongly on distribution of existing medical places and will prioritise rural and regional areas of need,” Minister McKenzie said. 

Mr Coulton said the benefit to local communities within the western region is huge with increased university presence, better infrastructure, more local jobs in construction and importantly, high quality, local health professionals. 

“This is a significant investment in Dubbo and will mean more country kids can become country doctors and remain in their home towns,” Mr Coulton said.

The Rural Health Multidisciplinary Training Program will also be expanded to include Curtin University (for medical training) and La Trobe University (for nursing and allied health) as part of the Strategy.

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