Western NSW general practices score infrastructure grants

MORE SPACE: Dr David Gillespie, pictured in Dubbo earlier this year, has announced $13 million will be spent on selected GP facilities to enable more training of staff.

MORE SPACE: Dr David Gillespie, pictured in Dubbo earlier this year, has announced $13 million will be spent on selected GP facilities to enable more training of staff.

Federal grants to help GPs train staff have been applauded by the NSW Rural Doctors Network (NSW RDN) that reports of 250 rural doctor vacancies in the state.

This week federal Assistant Minister for Health Dr David Gillespie announced $13 million would be spent on GP facilities “to facilitate more training in country practice”. Up to $300,000 has been offered to successful applicants that include Cobar Primary Health Care in Cobar, National Health Co-op in Yass, Yoorana Gunya Family Healing Centre in Forbes, Occupational Therapy and Rehab Solutions in Broken Hill and Ochre Medical Centre in Parkes,

“These grants will enable more doctors and other health professionals to get their hands-on training in regional communities,” Dr Gillespie said. “That provides an immediate benefit to the communities, with more health professionals available to attend to their needs.”

NSW RDN chief executive officer Richard Colbran welcomed the funding for infrastructure and equipment to improve training capacity in existing GP practices. “This has been an issue for a long time and any support to expand infrastructure is welcomed, particularly if it facilitates GP registrars and other aspiring health professionals,” he said.

On Thursday, 19 recipients of Rural General Practice Grants were named. The list of recipients may grow in coming weeks. The grants must be matched and can be spent on construction of new facilities, renovations, fit-outs, computing technology and medical equipment. Dr Gillespie expects to see more consultation rooms and space for teaching. “In the longer term, it also makes it more likely that junior doctors will choose to stay in these or other rural communities, when they are fully qualified,” he said.

Rural Doctors Association of NSW (RDANSW) president Dr Emma Cunningham said it felt the government had made “good steps in supporting rural health”. “We are also encouraged by the support given across multiple training levels, to create a pipeline to get medical students through their training, to working as junior doctors and finally fully-qualified doctors, all within a rural setting,” she said.

“RDANSW will continue to work with all governments to try and reduce these rural GP vacancies.” 

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