There’s a plan being put in place to encourage doctors to work in rural and remote areas of NSW.
There’s a plan being put in place to encourage doctors to work in rural and remote areas of NSW.

How can we keep doctors, medicos in regional NSW?

SECURING more regional and rural medical staff is the goal for the Northern NSW Medical Workforce Plan 2020-2026.

The road map will work on providing a space in regional areas where junior doctors and medical staff feel supported enough to stay on instead of relocating to metropolitan areas.

Professor Ross Bailie, Director, from the University Centre for Rural Health, said giving junior doctors a clear pathway for rural and regional training placements was key to securing their interest in working regionally in the longer term.

"Students who do train in rural locations are more likely to work in rural locations," Prof Bailie said.

"The more rural and remote you go, the more shortage of doctors there are and the more difficult it is to ensure there are doctors to be easily accessible.

"We need to think about effective models to ensure that people in those rural locations have good access to specialists care when they need it.

"It is vital that the training opportunities in rural and remote Australia are in the areas where there's going to be a future need, and this plan helps us determine where those needs will be."

The Medical Workforce Plan forms the framework for delivering integrated rural training pipelines that benefit regional medical students, as well as other young people in rural areas who might be thinking about studying medicine but are keen to stay close to home.

"We need to identify what the types of doctors and locations where we need doctors most and the plan is to really develop solutions to addressing those gaps in rural health in terms of GPs and specialist," Prof Bailie said.

"Focusing on training ethics in those disciplines we most need, including some of the areas psychiatry and mental health where there is a real shortage."

The plan builds on the available medical placements and training in the Richmond and Clarence Valleys to provide a basis for a framework to develop the medical workforce over the next seven years, while also considering population growth to determine future medical workforce needs to 2026.

The Northern NSW Regional Training Hubs (RTHs) in the Richmond and Clarence Valleys are part of a national strategy that aims to strengthen the rural health workforce by providing rural training and career opportunities for junior doctors.

The Northern NSW Medical Workforce Plan 2020-2026 is available on the Northern NSW Local Health District website.