Extra doctor numbers to address regional concerns

INCREASING the number of rural generalist medical training places to 80 in 2016 is expected to address a medical workforce shortage in rural Queensland.

Health Minister Lawrence Springborg announced a $1.8 million boost and a redirection of scholarship funding to increase places.

Speaking at the Rural Generalists Medicine World Summit in Cairns on Friday, Mr Springborg said the initiative would ensure rural and regional communities had better access to high quality medical services.

"Doubling intake numbers from 37 in 2013 to 80 in 2016 will ensure people in the regions get the treatment they need, closer to where they live," he said.

"Importantly, it will also return procedural skills like obstetrics and anaesthetics to rural communities.

"This is a commonsense decision that should have been made many years ago, because ever since the program started in 2007 there have been more applicants than positions available on Queensland's Rural Generalist Pathway."

Doctors can join the new pathway as early as their intern year.

Mr Springborg said the announcement reinforced the government's commitment to rural and remote Queensland.

He said the government had this year committed to 50 new midwives for rural and regional areas, 105 new rural graduate nursing positions and a Rural Telehealth Service to reduce the travelling patients must undertake to see specialists.

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