NATION ‘ Ill equipped’ doctors face import ban bid
DOCTORS are urging the Federal Government to stem the flow of overseas- trained doctors, arguing many are being sent to rural communities without the skills needed to care for patients.
The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners ( RACGP) has said many of the doctors working in rural and regional Australia do not have the appropriate skills, qualifications or support.
It has released a new position statement to clearly define the role of a rural WAR experts have maded a stunning discovery along the Kokoda Track – a secret jungle road built by the Japanese.
Australian archaeologists found “Jap Road”, as the locals call it, while unearthing the mysteries of the “lost battlefield” of Etoa. It is invisible from the air due to the impenetrable tree canopy, as is another pathway dubbed the “Jap Track”.
The battleground, where up to 70 undiscovered bodies still lie, is a treasure trove for officials investigating the Kokoda Campaign, which began 75 years ago this weekend and was part of Australia’s first genuine fight for survival – the brutal World War II conflict in Papua New Guinea. And it links to a larger effort to map key sites along the trail before they are lost to erosion, jungle creep and damage from trekkers.
The muddy, narrow mountainous Kokoda Track, fought over in horrible conditions between July and November 1942, was passable generalist to ensure doctors, policymakers, universities and training colleges are on the same page when it comes to understanding the skills and qualifications needed.
College president Bastian Seidel knows better than most how the system works in practice, having come to Australia as an overseas- trained doctor from Germany to work in Tasmania’s Huon Valley in 2007.
Visa requirements meant he could not work in a metropolitan area but no one checked he had the appropriate skills ls to only to men on foot. But the “Jap Road” which runs parallel to the famous track is some metres wide, with banked sides, and investigators – who have crosschecked with old battalion memoirs and Australian War Memorial archives – believe it was intended for use by horses bringing supplies.
The next step is to establish how far north and south the road extends. So far the team have mapped just 4km in the vicinity of the lost battlefield.
Senior archaeologist Matthew Kelly believes there are many more stories waiting to be unearthed along Kokoda – from fallen soldiers’ remains to crashed planes, and even the remains of a massive defensive wall built by the Japanese and mentioned by Diggers but never located.
Meanwhile PNG’s National Museum has appointed Australian historian Dr Andy Connelly as its new military heritage adviser as it seeks to discover and tell those stories. work as a rural GP. “That’s got to change,” Dr Seidel said.
“We’ve imported doctors from overseas and just literally left them alone with minimal support in rural areas and we know that hasn’t really worked. We can’t just make the same mistakes over and over again and hope for better health outcomes.”
Official figures suggest Australia is headed for a doctor oversupply of 7000 by 2030, yet rural communities suffer from a doctor drought.
Dr Seidel said Australia should stop spending money attracting overseas- trained doctors and focus on training local graduates to care for rural patients, who are typically older and have more chronic conditions such as heart disease.
Rural generalists need more advanced skills than regular GPs, with training in areas such as mental health, anaesthetics and obstetrics, but there is no national scheme to recognise their additional skills and extended working hours.
The RACGP push comes as the Federal Government pre- pares to appoint Australia’s first national rural health commissioner. The commissioner is charged with defining exactly what a rural generalist is and developing incentives and remuneration to recognise their extra skills and demands.
Assistant Health Minister David Gillespie says the influx of overseas- trained doctors is unsustainable and has sought advice on whether to curb the flow and how to redistribute medical schools and training places to address the rural doctor shortage.
SECRETSE TRACK: Australia's Dr Andy Connelly, ne newly appointed military heritage adviser to the Papuan National Museum and Art Gallery, at Eora Creek on the Kokoda Track with Sam Sega, a landowner in the area of the lost battlefield.