New initiatives to boost rural and remote health
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New initiatives to boost rural and remote health

The Australian College of Rural and Remote Medicine (ACRRM) and the Federal Government have announced they signed a Compact as part of a mission to ensure Australia has the right mix of health professionals to deliver healthcare to those in need, particularly those in rural and regional areas.

The announcement also formally recognises the ACRRM’s position as a key national stakeholder on behalf of rural communities and acknowledges the College as a peak body in setting standards for training general practitioners and rural generalist doctors.

Digital Health is high on the agenda in the Compact, with the ACRRM and the Government planning to collaborate to foster innovation and wider the adoption of digital health strategies, including the My Health Record. Importantly, the Compact recognises the potential for telehealth to enhance rural health care but not as a replacement for face-to-face services.

Some of the key priority areas of the Compact also include working with the Rural Health Commissioner to develop National Rural Generalist Pathways, and the Training the Future Rural and Remote Medical Workforce initiative, where both the ACRRM and the Government will work to improve workforce distribution, reform general practice training arrangements, and support non-vocationally registered doctors to obtain Fellowship.

Rural and remote mental health services is also a key priority, with the Compact showing initiatives for the Federal Government to support the ACRRM to further develop and enhance its training and professional development to increase the capacity of members to provide mental health services, in addition to working on a range of strategies to improve access to mental health services.

The Rural Workforce Policy, Planning and Distribution initiative sets out how both parties will work to develop and evaluate policies to support rural and remote communities with improved access to quality health care services.

Meanwhile the Doctor Health and Wellbeing initiative outlines plans to ensure the ACRRM continues to play a key role in setting quality standards and developing innovative models of care to support rural and remote practitioners at all stages of their career.

The Compact further revealed how the ACRRM and the Federal Government will work with key stakeholders in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples’ health, to increase the number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander doctors achieving Fellowship.

ACRRM President, Associate Professor Ruth Stewart, said the College is confident can negotiate a plan that enhances its commitment to advancing the health of rural communities.

“The Compact does not compromise the College’s commitment or capacity to advocate strongly for rural and remote communities and represent the interests of its members and these activities will continue,” she said. “This is in line with the College vision for better health for rural and remote people through access to skilled rural doctors.”
Federal Minister for Rural Health, Senator Bridget McKenzie, said ensuring that regional and rural Australians can access high quality health care is a key priority for the Coalition Government.

“The Compact recognises the pivotal role ACRRM plays in strengthening the Australian health care system and the shared vision to improve access and services in the regions,” she said. “It acknowledges the role of the College as a peak body that sets the standards for training general practitioners to ensure high quality care by doctors in communities across the nation.”

The Compact was developed in consultation with ACRRM members, responses and positive feedback informed the final document.

A copy of the Compact can be downloaded here.

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