From January, the numbers of junior doctors training in country South Australian hospitals will more than double, the Marshall Liberal Government has announced today.
Health and Wellbeing Minister Stephen Wade said the recruitment process for the 12 positions has now been completed.
“Starting next year, five interns will be based at Whyalla Hospital and an additional two will be based in Mount Gambier, bringing the totalnumber there to seven,” Minister Wade said.
“We will take the total number of interns completing their entire first year of on-the-job training from five to 12 in country SA – which is unprecedented.
The initiative is part of the Government’s $20 million Rural Health Workforce Strategy which aims to address the shortage of health practitioners in country areas.
“Under Labor, an increasing shortage of health practitioners left country health services vulnerable to closures and cutbacks – we are working to reverse that damage,” Minister Wade said.
The State Government has worked with the Commonwealth to secure the seven new intern positions – which are the result of a partnershipbetween Country Health SA, the University of Adelaide and Flinders University.
“The increase in rural interns will support pathways for both rural generalists and GPs in areas where, traditionally, recruiting and retaining health practitioners has been a challenge,” Minister Wade said.
“The Whyalla-based interns will complete a minimum of two rotations throughout the year at Whyalla Hospital, and three rotations at GP practices in Port Lincoln, Port Augusta and Whyalla.
“In Mount Gambier, the majority of interns will complete their rotations at Mount Gambier Hospital and at a GP practice in Mount Gambier or the Riverland.
“By enabling more junior doctors to undergo training in country hospitals and GP practices, we hope they might remain in the country or perhaps consider becoming visiting specialists.”
The increase in rural intern numbers exceeds the State Government’s pre-election commitment to double the number of medical interns in country South Australia.
Dr Lawrie McArthur of the University of Adelaide's Adelaide Rural Clinical School, and Director of Clinical Training at Whyalla Hospital and Health Service, said this new rural immersion intern training program will benefit the northern and Eyre regions of South Australia.
"This provides a much-needed continuum of rural doctor training between undergraduate and specialty training,” Dr McArthur said.
“It recognises the expertise, high quality and experience of rural doctors as supervisors and clinical teachers, and provides greater medical services to regional communities in Whyalla, Port Augusta and Port Lincoln.”
Professor Jennene Greenhill at Flinders Rural Health South Australia said the additional interns will be well supported.
“On the ground support will be provided by our team of internationally-recognised rural clinical academics, local GPs and specialists,” Professor Greenhill said.
After graduating from medicine at university, doctors in their first year of training are required to complete a range of different clinical rotations over 12 months in order to progress to the next stage of their career.
The partnership and funding secures the additional intern positions for the years 2019 and 2020.