Free Health Care Essay

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Submission: Australian Senate Inquiry on Factors affecting supply of health services & medical professionals in rural areas January 2012 Background General Practice Victoria is the peak organisation for general practice networks (formerly known as divisions) in Victoria and for the newly formed Medicare Locals. Our response is based on the findings of a joint study with the Rural Workforce Agency of Victoria on the issues, roles and workforce achievements of all 29 Victorian divisions of general practice and on a consultation with the Victorian GP networks/divisions on the Senate Committee’s Terms of Reference. As GPV has a key role in supporting the transition to Medicare Locals our response to this inquiry emphasises the potential of Medicare Locals in workforce development. Response to the Terms of Reference The factors affecting the supply and distribution of health services and medical professionals in rural areas, with particular reference to: (a) the factors limiting the supply of health services and medical, nursing and allied health professionals to small regional communities as compared with major regional and metropolitan centres; These factors have been very well documented in recent reports and include the following:  Lack of necessary supports for isolated health professionals: for education, locum services, community integration and (in the case of IMGs) understanding of Australian health system  Need for further investment in health education in rural environments  Workforce recruitment and retention strategies are usually conducted in isolation instead of being integrated into a community-wide approach  Need to continue and strengthen recent efforts to build up a procedural GP workforce.  Increasing complexity of health care needs of aging population and an ageing health workforce. (b) the effect of the introduction of Medicare

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