WIMMERA health leaders have welcomed the development of a national framework to increase doctor numbers in regional areas.
The Collingrove Agreement will involve the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners and the Australian College of Rural and Remote Medicine building a National Rural Generalist Pathway for doctors.
The rural generalist model incorporates a scope of practice that allows doctors to meet a broad range of medical services commonly required in rural and remote communities. The national pathway will aim to provide training, recognition and appropriate remuneration for doctors working in these areas.
State-based rural generalist programs already exist.
Horsham’s Lister House Medical Clinic nurse manager Amanda Wilson said any specific focus on rural health was sensational.
“We don't know how the framework will be developed, but hopefully they'll work to find out areas that might have worked well at a state level and ones that haven't, and base the program around actual results,” she said.
Mrs Wilson said the region’s health services were anticipating Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt’s visit to the Wimmera next week.
“We're trying to get together as a medical group in the region to put forward what we think needs to happen and what would work,” she said.
“It will take massive steps and some gutsy moves from government – we're hoping they'll be up to the task.
“We are basically treated as second-class citizens in the country; we deserve the equality of care that people in the city get.”
Mrs Wilson said Member for Mallee Andrew Broad had been instrumental in securing Mr Hunt’s visit, and advocating for rural health issues.
West Wimmera Health Service acting chief executive Ritchie Dodds said he was encouraged by the national framework agreement.
“This announcement confirms that our voice as a region is being heard,” he said.
“We will need to see some details about what is exactly being proposed, but this news certainly points to a much more reliable and sustainable long-term solution than what we can expect if nothing changes.”