WIMMERA Health Care Group has backed calls to simplifying the recruiting of medical professionals in rural areas.
The Rural Doctors Association of Australia said the move was necessary because the bureaucratic process for doctors to become registered, get a Medicare provider number and be credentialed had become a barrier to recruiting doctors to work in rural areas.
Credentialing is the process by which doctors' qualifications are vetted to make sure they have the appropriate skills to perform certain procedures.
Chief executive Catherine Morley said the health service was having "extreme difficulty" getting specialists registered with their appropriate colleges.
"Credentialing is a huge amount of work and really important for health services to go through," she said.
"We have to work with the colleges and the doctors to assist them to get registered.
"In the Grampians we have a regional approach so we can have a doctor credentialed to work at any hospital in the region, but a national or state approach would also be beneficial."
"We have a lot of locums that come and do work here, and they need to have working with children and police checks, so if we had a central repository of that information, that is a whole lot of administration that can be minimised."
Ms Morley said the health service only employed general practitioners that were already registered, which reduced the administrative burden.
"I don't think we can say the requirements for someone to be registered with their specialist colleges need to be lessened - it's just how do you make it easier?" she said.
"A lot of our overseas specialists bring their families, and they have to go off and do three months of training, so can we do the training in a different way that allows it to be more localised and timely?"
RDAA president-elect Dr John Hall said credentialing was particularly relevant for rural doctors.
"They often have a broad range of qualifications across a number of disciplines, whereas a city doctor is often a GP or a specialist," he said.
"Doctors that work in rural hospitals providing services like birthing, surgery and emergency department care often have sub-qualifications like obstetrics. (When we move jobs) we have to confirm we have our qualifications and that we have ongoing training in those sub-disciplines.
"That can start to become very onerous. Often it means scanning original documents and getting certified copies, even though you've provided those credentials to, say, a Melbourne state hospital.
"The states have health departments that generally oversee all the public hospitals. When the same entity has the same information, you would think it would be a straightforward process for them to share that, rather than make the doctor provide it all again."
Dr Hall said the government needed to revisit how it defined the scope of practice for rural doctors.
"In some cases, a rural doctor might be credentialed to provide a particular service at one hospital, but (not) at another hospital an hour away," he said.
The Mail-Times has contacted Member for Mallee Anne Webster for comment.
In September, Dr Webster said she had presented Health Minister Greg Hunt with a regional healthcare reform policy.
She said it included proposals for new funding models, and allied and primary health professionals to work together in clinics to meet the health needs of rural communities.
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