The Regional Medical Specialists Association (RMSA) was established to give a voice for medical specialists working in rural and regional Australia. The chronic rural doctor shortage creates health inequities for rural communities. This causes serious deficiencies in health status and life expectancy for rural and regional Australians.
About 32% of Australians live outside of major cities. Although the shortage of rural General Practitioners (GPs) is numerically greater, the shortage of rural specialists is proportionately much worse. As an example, 88.84% of Consultant Physicians live and work in major cities; 7.65% in inner regional areas and just 3.51% in outer regional, remote or very remote areas. The RMSA believes that this is a result of long-standing reluctance by universities and specialty training organisations to accredit rural and regional centres for training.
In the past, aspiring doctors needed to commit over 12 years in a major city to complete training. Many attempts have been made by state and commonwealth governments to deal with this problem.
An obvious response would be to increase funding for rural-based medical schools and post-graduate training by reducing funding for these activities in Metropolitan areas.
This is a no-cost solution, supported by increasing evidence from here and overseas that rural-based medical training is of high quality and produces expert clinicians.
The RMSA wants to work with government and the other organisations dedicated to rural medicine to ensure high-quality health care for Australians living in rural and regional areas.