News

Some rural doctors work 24/7: RDAA

BURNT out rural doctors are being forced to leave the bush due to frustrations with a "government that is not engaging" with them, a Senate inquiry into rural health heard on Friday.

Rural Doctors Association of Australia (RDAA) president Paul Mara spoke to the Senate Committee on Community Affairs, which has been investigating the factors affecting the supply of health services and medical professionals in rural areas.

Dr Mara said a shortfall of some 1000 doctors in rural communities was forcing long-time bush doctors to leave their communities because they were forced to work 24 hours a day seven days a week.

He told the inquiry that Friday was the first day he personally had had off, after working the previous 27 days straight to service patients in his home town of Gundagai.

Dr Mara said there were several factors affecting the numbers of GPs in rural areas, including an incentive classification system that listed towns like Gundagai along with major regional centres such as Cairns.

But he said the biggest problem was that the Federal Government was not engaging with doctors in the bush.

"We have attempted to engage with the government on this issue for years - that is my chief complaint.

"When the system was being designed, we told them the system was not designed properly, and people have simply not listened to us.

"I want to engage constructively with the government, but we can't do that if people simply don't listen to us."

Dr Mara said the current classification could be improved with minor changes which would see incentives flow to where they were most needed, but he advocating starting again from scratch.

He also suggested an expansion of the existing incentive system.

Currently, doctors who work in rural and regional areas are paid incentives while they work in those towns.

Dr Mara said an additional incentive could be created where doctors are paid in the incentive even after they leave the rural communities.

He suggested that doctors should continue getting the benefits for the same amount of time they were in a rural community - five years after they leave, if they spent five years in a small town.

But Dr Mara said that no incentive was good enough to keep doctors in rural areas if they did not have the skills and training they needed to service their communities.

RDAA chief executive Jenny Johnson said she feared for the future of rural general practitioners who were being burnt out with a lack of doctors to fill in after hours and during holiday breaks.

"My greatest fear is that these doctors who are dedicated to their communities are leaving because they just can't keep going.

"We need to keep these doctors where they are, because these are the doctors who are going to be mentoring the next generation of medical students and encouraging them to come back to rural communities."

The inquiry will report its findings on June 27.

Topics:  rdaa, rural doctors association of australia, rural health, senate inquiry


Stay Connected

Update your news preferences and get the latest news delivered to your inbox.

Beach shacks unsalvageable: owner

Beach shack at 1674 David Low Way Coolum Beach,

Owner of beach shacks reveals that he tried to save them

Coast surfing star bewildered by scoring as title hopes fade

NOT HAPPY: Julian Wilson bowed out of the Hurley Pro at Lower Trestles, essentially ending his world title quest.

Coast surfing star bewildered by scoring as world title hopes fade.

Local Partners

'UNREAL': Paddler videos moment whale swims under his board

ZIGGY Alberts will never forget his morning paddle to Old Woman Island nor photographer Jodie Price will ever have better timing.

Residents' protests fail to stop community centre shift

Coolum Community Centre/ old Coolum Cinema/ Coolum School of Arts.

Council officers recommended the centre be moved

Beach shacks unsalvageable: owner

Beach shack at 1674 David Low Way Coolum Beach,

Owner of beach shacks reveals that he tried to save them

Coast surfing star bewildered by scoring as title hopes fade

NOT HAPPY: Julian Wilson bowed out of the Hurley Pro at Lower Trestles, essentially ending his world title quest.

Coast surfing star bewildered by scoring as world title hopes fade.

Festivals are done and the clean-up has begun

NOT FAZED: Maroochy Music and Visual Arts Festival director James Birrell and his clean-up helpers from Party Bins said they had already \"broken the back\" of the clean-up on Sunday afternoon.

Festival organisers are winding down after a huge weekend of fun

Peregian's market gain to open soon

Peregian Village Market is set to be opened by Mayor Tony Wellington on Wednesday.

Peregian's new market force

World's toughest smoking laws could get tougher

New smoking laws came into effect in Queensland from Thursday.

New smoking laws 'world's toughest' but harsher laws could follow

Classic car auction draws buyers from US, Dubai

"He wants everyone to enjoy the cars, the collection got too big'

Naomi Watts and Liev Schreiber split

Naomi Watts and Liev Schreiber

Naomi Watts and Liev Schreiber have split after 11 years together.

Why Chris Hemsworth was spotted wearing nail polish

RED CARPET: Do you think Chris Hemsworth is the typical unpolished but well-natured Aussie bloke?

He's now officially the best bloke in Australia

Testament's new album is a concept album

ROME, ITALY- JULY 27, 2016: Testament photographed at The Roman Collisseium in Rome, Italy on July 27,2016. Gene Ambo

Testament to release new album

'Baby' recreates famous Nirvana cover shot 25 years later

The baby from Nevermind album has recreated the iconic cover shot.

PREVIEW: Luke Cage origin story is a strong addition to MCU

Mike Colter in a scene from the TV series Marvel's Luke Cage.

MIKE Colter stars as latest Marvel superhero to get his own series.

Kate goes down fighting in heated Survivor elimination

Australian Survivor contestant Kate Campbell.

YOGA teacher's 'good guys' alliance fails to get off the ground.

$40million hotel, shops development project for Mackay

Mt Pleasant hotel and retirement accommodation, proposed at 194-202 Malcomson St.

$40m development to take Mackay to 'the next level'

Property 200m from ocean selling for just over $100K

BEACHCOMBER PARK: Work has started on a new $19.2 million development at Toogoom.

The estate's developer is offering huge discounts for early buyers.

UPDATE: Former rodeo champ's sale rained out, now back on

Larkhill local Ken Consiglio is having an auction of most of the things on his property.

'People kept showing up and we had to turn them away'

First stages of $25 million housing development underway

New development on Madsen Rd - The Springs.

The blocks of land are much bigger than usual

Couple build their own 'tiny house' for $45k

Holly Bowen and Oli Bucher built their "tiny house" themselves, only hiring a plumber and an electrician. Photo/supplied

The house, which is built on a trailer and can be towed.

Rocky proves prime real estate in latest REIQ report

Kas Woch sold this Wood St home in Depot Hill for $107,000 in August.

A new investor's market as Rocky house prices hit lowest in state