Access to healthcare in rural and regional areas of Hunter New England Local Health District will soon be given a boost, as part of the NSW Government’s expansion of the Single Employer Model.
NSW Minister for Regional Health, Ryan Park said he was pleased that progress is being made on the rollout, with Tamworth and Armidale hospitals identified as initial trial sites.
“Recruitment and retention of our medical workforce, in both primary care and hospital settings, is a major challenge faced by regional, rural, and remote communities across the state,” Mr Park said.
“Addressing this is a priority for our Government and the Single Employer Model is an innovative, proven approach that will benefit health services in areas like Armidale and Tamworth.”.
The Single Employer Model provides a coordinated pathway that makes it easier and more attractive for junior doctors to train as rural generalists, who can deliver care in both emergency departments and general practices.
One of the ways it achieves this, is by allowing doctors to maintain their employment benefits as they undertake rotations between the hospitals and GP practices.
The District has been working in partnership with the Hunter, New England and Central Coast Primary Health Network (PHN) to identify potential general practices throughout the region and ensure a coordinated rollout.
“Increasing the number of rural generalists will mean more GPs and more access to specialist skills in areas such as emergency medicine, obstetrics, anaesthetics, or mental health services,” Mr Park said.
“In turn, it will give more people across rural, regional and remote areas of NSW greater access to locally available healthcare services.”
The model is based on an innovative program trialled in the Murrumbidgee region.
The NSW Government will be able to access exemptions under Section 19(2) of the Health Insurance Act 1974 for up to 80 Rural Generalist trainees per year, as part of a 2022/23 federal budget commitment.
Early recruitment is already underway through the state-wide Rural Generalist Training Program with commencement planned for the beginning of the 2024 training year.
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