To get the GP numbers Inverell needs, all levels of government need to take a collaborative approach to attract and keep medical professionals in regional and rural areas, one local man says.
Shayne O'Brien has put together a comprehensive submission for the senate inquiry on GP shortages in the bush, and says his fellow residents need to do the same - taking the first step to create a "cohesive plan".
He has been living in the Sapphire City since 1975, and over that time he has seen the numbers of doctors decrease.
"The standard of medical care is still very good, but now it's a numbers game," he told the Times.
Needing a doctor only recently, he was told the next available appointment wasn't until mid-October, "a long time to have to wait".
While making it clear he had no criticism of the care received in town, he said access to GPs "is very much an Inverell problem, as well as one facing regional and rural areas on the whole."
In his submission, he says changes to medicare benefits, GP training opportunities and financial incentives to attract GPs to travel and serve patients in the bush have come a long way, but the continued existence of the shortage suggests that we need to "think outside the box".
"I visualise that this difficulty is essentially a human and locality problem and requires the scrutiny and engagement of compassionate and socially aware planners and organisers," he continues.
"It will be solved when there is a amalgamation of the total wisdom pertaining to the thinking, attitudes, training and background of the very people and professionals who are most affected by this sociological/geographical health issue."
He told the Times there was much that local, state and federal governments could do, to work within a "coordinated decisive action plan."
"I hope the inquiry will come out with strong and definite plans to address the shortages and publicise what they're doing," he said.
"An issue like this isn't solved by tiptoeing around the edges. A collaborative approach is needed, and I hope this inquiry will do just that.
"I'd love to see other people make a submission and do something that can help achieve that outcome."
What is the inquiry
The Senate inquiry into the provision of GP and related primary health services to outer metropolitan, rural, and regional Australians is currently accepting submissions, and is scheduled to turn in its report next year.
It will consider Government reforms and policies, including the Stronger Rural Health Strategy, geographical classification systems, GP training reforms and Medicare rebates, as well as the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Chair of the Committee, Senator Rachel Siewert said, "access to GP and related health services in rural and regional areas is a critical issue affecting communities, and this inquiry will provide an opportunity to examine the delivery of health services and ways to improve access."
A wide range of people and organisations, including individuals with first-hand experience delivering or accessing GP and related health services are encouraged to make a submission.
Visit https://www.aph.gov.au/senate_ca for more.
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