Regional Australian communities will have easier access to doctors and shorter waiting times after the Coalition Government announced a $62.2 million 2019-20 Budget investment over four years to fast track the National Rural Generalist Pathway program.

Member for Wannon, Dan Tehan MP, said that just because people lived outside capital cities, they shouldn’t have to accept poorer access to doctors.

“Australia has the medical workforce, and the Coalition Government is investing in pathways to get Australian doctors to live and work in regional and rural Australia,” Mr Tehan said.

“Rural generalists play a key role providing rural and remote Australians with access to health services by providing general practice, emergency care and other specialist services in hospitals and in the community.

“More rural generalists in rural and remote areas means enhanced access to services and better health outcomes for our communities.”

Minister for Regional Services, Sport, Local Government and Decentralisation, Senator Bridget McKenzie, said that the funding will help see more doctors in local communities, providing greater access to quality health services when needed the most.

“This announcement will help deliver more generalists into rural and regional areas that will address some of the inequities that those communities face in terms of getting access to a doctor,” Senator McKenzie said.

The program will fund initiatives such as coordinated training for rural generalists, expansion of the Rural Junior Doctor Training Innovation Fund to provide more early exposure to rural training and seeking sub-specialty recognition of rural generalism through the Medical Board of Australia.

Professor Paul Worley formed the National Rural Generalist Pathway Taskforce which appointed working groups and expert reference groups to help develop the pathway.

The taskforce presented its advice to the Rural Health Commissioner on 21 December 2018 with 19 recommendations.

Today’s announcement builds on the Coalition Government’s commitment to redress the provision of health services in Australia.