New regional hub to address medical workforce shortages

A re-elected Coalition Government would provide funding to Flinders University to establish a new Regional Training Hub to address critical medical workforce shortages, it has been announced.

Jointly announced by Regional Health Minister Dr David Gillespie and the Member for Barker Tony Pasin MP, the initiative would expand the Government’s Rural Health Multidisciplinary Training (RHMT) program, with $3.9 million invested in 3 new centres nationally including Flinders’ existing regional campus in Renmark. 

Vice President and Executive Dean of the College of Medicine and Public Health Professor Jonathan Craig welcomed the commitment as further evidence that Flinders’ training hub activities are going from strength to strength.

‘We’ve considered the fundamental challenges of attracting and retaining medical and health professionals in regional and remote areas and understand that people who know and love their area are more likely to have a long-term commitment to their region.

‘We’ve responded by creating a pipeline of opportunity – providing opportunities for rural school students to “see what they can be’”, enabling students to do their medical studies while remaining connected to their communities, ensuring they undertake their lengthy placements in regional areas, and encouraging them to stay on as graduate doctors, GPS and potentially as specialists.

‘Flinders has invested 25 years of expertise in developing the medical workforce in the Northern Territory, and our regional hubs in Darwin and Alice Springs have transformed the health landscape across the Centre and Top End. We’re especially pleased to see growing numbers of Indigenous graduates uniquely equipped to support their communities.

‘Likewise, in South Australia we are graduating rural doctors who have spent substantial time in the regions. The Mount Gambier regional training hub provides opportunities for GP and junior doctor training for graduates who choose to remain in the South East or return after graduating. 

‘This potential investment acknowledges Flinders’ leadership in rural and remote health, especially through the Australian central corridor, and would enable us to further extend our program to address another region facing critical workforce need,’ Professor Craig says.

(l-r) Liberal Member for Barker Tony Pasin, Dean of Rural and Remote Health Professor Robyn Aitken and medical students Justin Martin and Amir Nori.

Dean of Rural and Remote Health Professor Robyn Aitken says Flinders would work in partnership with local providers to ensure local priorities are foremost.

‘This funding would allow our Riverland hub to grow. Developed in partnership with the Riverland Mallee Coorong Local Health Network (RMCLHN), we’re already expanding opportunities for Indigenous students and placements for students from rural backgrounds and these would be further prioritised as part of the Hubs program.

‘There is a lot of debate about how best to address the rural doctor shortage. It won’t be solved overnight, however Flinders has demonstrated that our robust program, strategically delivered, is developing a workforce that is tailor made for the unique requirements of rural and remote regions.

‘This announcement is further testament to Flinders’ expertise in rural and remote education and our unwavering commitment to communities across South Australia and the Northern Territory,’ Professor Aitken says.

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Alumni College of Medicine and Public Health