The NSW Nationals in the federal government are investing nearly $100-million to expand the number of Commonwealth-supported places for medical students at rural clinical schools and regional university campuses.
The Federal Budget 2022-23 is delivering an investment of $296.5 million in regional, rural and remote health, including new measures aimed at increasing the medical workforce in the regions.
Nationals Minister for Regional Health and Federal Member for Lyne Dr David Gillespie said the rural health Budget included $99.3-million to fund an additional 80 Commonwealth-supported places for medical students through a competitive process, using the Assessment Framework for proposals for medical CSPs.
“In our region, the University of Newcastle operates a combined Rural Clinical School and UDRH (University Department of Rural Health) in Taree and Port Macquarie, and The University of New South Wales operates a medical program with a rural clinical school footprint in Port Macquarie,” Dr Gillespie said.
“Both of these institutions will be eligible to apply for places through the competitive process. If successful, this will expand the opportunity to grow the local GP and medical workforce.”
Last week, the Federal Coalition Government announced an injection of $32.9-million over three years into the University of Newcastle’s Rural Health Multidisciplinary Training (RHMT) program which will train many more student doctors, nurses and other allied health professionals in Taree.
Funding for the Taree-based University of Newcastle’s Rural Clinical School and University Department of Rural Health will support 18 local staff and significantly boost the region’s health workforce.
Dr Gillespie said the RHMT program provided more than $200 million a year to fund a network of rural clinical schools, university departments of rural health, regional training hubs and dental training sites to support extended rural placements.
“This training program continues to receive the strong backing of The Nationals in Government, increasing the local primary care workforce, improving health outcomes in our local communities, and giving students an appreciation of how rewarding it can be to work in a regional area.”
Dr Gillespie said other rural medical workforce initiatives in the Budget included:
• $2.1 million to continue the National Rural Health Student Network of Rural Health Clubs in universities with a Rural Health Multidisciplinary Training program, to support students while they study;
• HELP debt Incentive – boosting incentives to attract privately practising doctors and nurse practitioners to live and work in rural Australia, through the Higher Education Loan Program (HELP), formerly HECS, by reducing their outstanding HELP debt.
• More than $700 million to continue the Specialist Training Program to help get more doctors trained in the specialties that regional Australia needs.