City’s healthcare staff not supported enough: State medics
REGIONAL healthcare services and its shortcomings are at the heart of a debate between the state's medics and locals from remote Queensland towns, who believe not enough is done to cater to rural and remote regions when it comes to healthcare.
The Australian Medical Association Queensland believes calls for equity in health services between regional and metropolitan centres have fallen on deaf ears.
AMAQ president Dr Chris Perry described the "maldistribution" experienced in the state when it came to adequate health services.
"About a third of Australians live in regional and rural areas," he said.
"They deserve the same standard of comprehensive and holistic care as those living in urban and metropolitan areas.
"It is vitally important for the hospital and health services to work with the private sector to ensure that integrated services are available to those who need health care and that those health services are provided as close to home as possible."
Rural parts of the State have had their fair share of struggles with "inadequate" health care services.
Regional Queensland has previously suffered from a "maternity crisis" which resulted in the closure of the Chinchilla Maternity Services.
In the Parliamentary Estimates Hearing last year it was revealed Dalby Hospital's maternity services also almost went on "bypass" in the middle of last year.
Dr Perry said there was no excuse for regional Queensland to be behind in medical services.
"Queensland has been fortunate in that it has structured training programs for many years to develop the workforce for regional and rural areas," he said.
"We have training pathways to train rural generalists as well as non GP specialists.
"There are many areas where the work-life balance of doctors has improved by increasing the number of doctors in rural towns.
"Hospital and health services have been increasing types of services in regional areas through outreach services and innovations such as telehealth services."
A spokesman from Queensland Health said on average 250 junior doctors, interns, medical offices and registrars were recruited by Darling Downs Health on a rotational basis.
"In 2020, 262 juniors doctors were recruited for Darling Downs Health including 45 interns, 68 junior/senior house officers, and 149 registrars/principal house officers," they said.
"The proposed redeveloped Toowoomba Hospital, which would be located at the Baillie Henderson Hospital campus, would deliver new and expanded health care services for the region's growing population."
Dr Perry said the root of the issues, however, were not in recruitment, but in the support for those choosing to work regionally.
"We have to stop the blame game and work out the services that a community requires and then fund those services in a collaborative way," he said.
"Having said that, there are many opportunities in south west Queensland where doctors are able to set up a rural career and make it their home.
"But recruitment is not the only answer.
"Once recruited, doctors and their families have to be well supported and not forgotten in the bush.
"This is what often happens and the result is that retention of the workforce becomes problematic, and people leave.
"If you make it a good place to work, people will stay."