Regional training hub for Tamworth
IT’S set to be a shot in the arm for medical specialist numbers in the North West, but doctors say it will be a while before we feel the effects.
The University of Newcastle Department of Rural Health has been injected regional training hub funding from the federal government, which will be a boon for its bases in Tamworth, Armidale and Taree, trying to give medical students a path to life and practice in the bush.
Department director and Tamworth GP Jenny May was “pleased and relieved” to secure the funding, but said it wouldn’t be a panacea for rural recruitment and retention woes.
“There’s no one single strategy that will buy us a long-term sustained rural workforce,” Dr May told The Leader.
“There’s lots of moving parts.”
Dr May said the announcement would help universities “regionalise more training” for post-graduate students.
There’s no one single strategy that will buy us a long-term sustained rural workforce.Dr Jenny May
“There’ll be no difference overnight,” Dr May said.
“But, over time, we hope it will increase capacity to attract specialist training.”
The Tamworth GP said the aim was to be able to provide 60 per cent of a post-graduate students specialist training in a a regional town.
The next step is to collaborate with the Local Health District and the GP network to help open up more training positions, she said.
“Training positions reflect where the doctors are, not where the people are,” Dr May said.
“This will help get the balance a bit closer.”
Member for New England Barnaby Joyce believed the regional training would help build the regional health workforce.
“This hub will work with local health services to help move medical students through the pipeline, enabling students to continue rural training through university into postgraduate medical training, and then working within regional and rural Australia,” Mr Joyce said.
Under the Rural Health Multidisciplinary Training program, $54.4 million has been allocated over 2016-17 to 2018-19 for 26 new regional training hubs and three university departments of rural health.