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The Coffs Coast Advocate publishes an article focusing on one of regional Australia’s ongoing challenges.

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Luke Hartsuyker MP Federal Member for Cowper


Column July 23, 2004

Last Wednesday The Coffs Coast Advocate published an article focusing on one of regional Australia’s ongoing challenges.

The front page piece on Dorrigo Doctor Host Herb and the editor’s opinion column promoted the need for us to encourage more overseas doctors to Australia and to streamline their transition to practise in Australia.

Both these issues are vital to regional Australia. That is why I was delighted when an overseas doctor package was included in MedicarePlus which was released in November of last year.

The supply of doctors and nurses is one of the key parts of MedicarePlus.

Whilst accountability for the administration of public hospitals and most major health programmes rests with the States and Territory Governments, the Commonwealth does have a responsibility to assist in maintaining the supply of qualified health professionals.

The MedicarePlus package is the largest single commitment made to boosting doctor and nurse numbers in Australia.

More than $1 billion will be invested over the next four years to boost doctor and nurses number by 3000. By 2007 it is forecast the equivalent of 1500 additional doctors will be available.

725 of these doctors will be overseas trained doctors.

Understandably, it is vital these overseas doctors can provide a level of health care which meets Australia’s high standards.

With the assistance of a taskforce that includes representatives of major medical bodies across the nation, overseas trained doctor numbers will be boosted through a number of strategies.

International recruitment agencies will play a role in identifying doctors who may wish to practice in and immigrate to Australia.

Cutting red tape and providing additional training will hasten the process of assessment and a referral service is being established to assist overseas trained

Media Contact: Greg Pierce 02 66 52 62 33 0408 532 785 Canberra: 62 77 4447

Media Contact: Greg Pierce 02 66 52 62 33. Mobile 0408 532 785 Email: Canberra: 6277 4447

doctors to efficiently work through immigration, medical registration and access to Medicare rebates issues.

The passing of legislation earlier this year means overseas doctors now have more opportunity to obtain permanent residency.

With many existing doctors having a preference to reside in metropolitan areas, those doctors who arrive in Australia as a result of MedicarePlus will also be directed to regional areas.

That will complement other initiatives such as the construction of the Rural Clinical School at the Coffs Harbour Health Campus which is seeing student doctors trained in regional areas.

The safety net for high medical expenses and additional incentives for doctors to bulk bill have been recognised as key parts of the $2.85 billion MedicarePlus package.

In my view, by boosting the supply of doctors through our tertiary institutions and overseas doctor recruitment we will address many of the health issues which are vital to regional Australia.