New program launches to boost doctor numbers in regional and rural areas of SA

The Australian and South Australian governments have announced a new initiative aimed at enhancing medical services in regional and rural areas of SA.

The Federal and State Government have announced a new initiative aimed at enhancing medical services in regional and rural areas of South Australia by improving the recruitment and retention of doctors.

The program is designed to address the challenges faced by medical professionals in rural areas, particularly the need to change employers with each new placement.

Under the program, up to 60 additional GP and rural generalist registrars will be employed at any given time, hopefully increasing the state’s existing cohort as the program progresses.

These registrars will be employed as salaried employees by the South Australian Health Service, allowing them to have consistent employment and benefits similar to those of hospital settings, including guaranteed income, annual leave, parental leave, and sick leave.

This initiative promises to provide medical graduates with stable career opportunities and enhance medical services in South Australia’s regional and rural communities.

The commitment is part of a broader strategy to make rural general practice a more appealing choice for young doctors and to ensure that residents in these areas have better access to medical care.

The SEM will initially be implemented across five regional and rural Local Health Networks (LHNs): Barossa Hills and Fleurieu, Eyre and Far North, Flinders and Upper North, Yorke and Northern, and Limestone Coast.

This expansion builds on the success of earlier trials such as the Riverland Academy of Clinical Excellence (RACE) in the Riverland Mallee Coorong Local Health Network, which has reported a retention rate of over 98% and increased its medical workforce by over 25% in both hospital and general practice settings.

Minister Butler stressed the importance of the program, saying: “We want to attract more doctors to regional South Australia and this innovative approach will help to retain the doctors we need to continue to provide essential primary healthcare services to South Australians.”

Premier Malinauskas highlighted the support from the federal government and the impact of this program on the state’s health system. “Bringing in more doctors to regional South Australia continues our recruiting drive in the past two years to boost the state’s health system, when we have hired more than 1,400 extra health workers,” he said.

Minister Picton underscored the program’s previous success and its potential for statewide implementation, saying: “I am thrilled this is now rolling out across the rest of South Australia and supporting up to 80 GP and rural generalist registrars training in the community.”

This trial is set to continue until 2028, reflecting a long-term commitment to improving healthcare accessibility and services across regional and rural South Australia.

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