Scarcity of doc­tors will dog La­bor’s Su­per Clin­ics

The Weekend Australian - Travel - - Health - Adam Cress­well

WORK­FORCE pres­sures mean La­bor’s pro­posed net­work of GP Su­per Clin­ics are un­likely to be fully staffed un­til in­creased med­i­cal stu­dent places ma­ture into in­creased num­bers of newly grad­u­at­ing doc­tors.

Amid per­sis­tent com­plaints by doc­tors about the con­tin­u­ing med­i­cal work­force short­age, La­bor health spokes­woman Ni­cola Roxon con­ceded this week that the new clin­ics would prob­a­bly strug­gle to fill all their med­i­cal va­can­cies for the first year or two.

Af­ter an­nounc­ing four more of the planned clin­ics in Tas­ma­nia and Queens­land this week, Ms Roxon told Week­end Health that ‘‘ of course you prob­a­bly won’t have a full com­ple­ment (of doc­tors) from day one’’.

The dif­fi­culty of re­cruit­ing doc­tors, al­ready in short sup­ply, has been a per­sis­tent theme, even among the ma­jor­ity of health or­gan­i­sa­tions that sup­port La­bor’s plans.

But Roxon says con­sul­ta­tions with the med­i­cal pro­fes­sion strongly sug­gested the Su­per Clinic model — pro­vid­ing qual­ity in­fra­struc­ture that gave doc­tors an easy op­tion to work in a multi-dis­ci­plinary team in un­der-ser­viced ar­eas, with­out the need to buy into a prac­tice — would be at­trac­tive in the long run.

‘‘ We are con­fi­dent that by in­vest­ing in this in­fra­struc­ture we will max­imise the chance of hav­ing large num­bers of new grad­u­ates (at­tracted to gen­eral prac­tice),’’ she said.

‘‘ Our view is that the new young grad­u­ates com­ing on-line in the next two to three years, if we don’t pro­vide the best op­por­tu­nity to at­tract them into gen­eral prac­tice in ar­eas that are be­ing un­der­ser­viced, we will lose the whole next gen­er­a­tion (of doc­tors).

‘‘ This pro­posal gives us time to get the in­fra­struc­ture up and run­ning that will at­tract those new young pro­fes­sion­als in larger num­bers.’’

The GP Su­per Clinic pro­gram, an­nounced last month, will cost $220 mil­lion over four years and will form part of La­bor leader Kevin Rudd’s planned $2 bil­lion health re­form plan. Rudd pledged $10 mil­lion for the first clinic, in the Dar­win sub­urb of Palmer­ston, ear­lier this month.

The an­nounce­ments this week were for three clin­ics in Tas­ma­nia: up to $5 mil­lion for one in Devon­port, up to $2.5 mil­lion for an af­ter-hours clinic in Burnie, and up to $7.5 mil­lion for a Ho­bart clinic split across two sites, at Bel­lerive and Sor­rell.

Mr Rudd and Ms Roxon also an­nounced $15 mil­lion for an ‘‘ in­te­grated care cen­tre’’ in Launce­s­ton to pro­vide ser­vices such as

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