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Federal Government must take responsibility for doctor shortage.

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Senator Kerry Nettle Australian Greens Senator for New South Wales

Federal Government must take responsibility for doctor shortag

5th Oct 07

Australia’s shortage of doctors is caused by the federal government’s massive neglect of the higher eduction sector its unsustainable increases in student fees, and under supply of Medicare provider numbers, Australian Greens education spokesperson Kerry Nettle said today.

“With many medicine degrees costing upwards of $200,000 it should come as no surprise to Minister Abbott that Australia has a shortage of medical staff” Senator Nettle said.

"The cut in Medicare provider numbers that the Howard government delivered in 1996 together with their under supply of affordable medical student university places is now adding medicine to the long list of coalition induced skills shortages in Australia.

“Australians are prevented from studying medicine through a combination of high fees and a lack of places in universities. For those few people lucky enough to get into university without having to pay upfront, they have to contend with years of inadequate student support and HECS debts.

"In my state the University of New South Wales can only take up to 200 Commonwealth-supported students and 70 fee-paying students in medicine. The failure of the Government to provide

additional places for medical and other health professional places at university has driven the current health workforce shortage.

“With the economic sun shining so brightly, the federal government has no excuse not to support more Australian trained doctors, said.

“Clearly a significant proportion of the government’s $17 billion dollar surplus should be spent on increasing the quality and quantity of medical education in Australia’s higher education sector.

“I am very concerned that around 37 per cent of all rural GPs are now foreign-trained while overseas doctors are relied upon to deliver basic health services in eastern states hospitals.

The Greens support the abolition of HECS and removing it from medicine and other health related university degrees as a much needed step towards redressing the health workforce shortage. Senator Nettle said.

More information Kristian Bolwell: 0411638320