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AMA rebuffs Deputy PM’s call for more regional medical schools

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The AMA has again stressed to the Federal Government that establishing more regional medical schools is not the answer to attracting doctors to rural Australia.

It follows Deputy Prime Minister and Nationals Leader Michael McCormack’s comments (while serving as the Acting Prime Minister) that a new regional medical school would help address the doctor shortage in the bush.

He urged his parliamentary colleagues, and especially those in the Nationals Party, to continue fighting for more regional doctors and medical schools.

“I am a big believer in rural medical schools, which will address the maldistribution of doctors,” Mr McCormack said during an address to the National Press Club in April.

“As the Nationals leader, I believe medical schools should happen.”

But AMA Vice President Dr Tony Bartone said the message didn’t seem to be getting through to the Government that regional medical schools were not the answer.

“This is not the way you try and get good-quality doctors into rural and regional Australia,” Dr Bartone said.

“We continue to pour out doctors, but we don’t have a sustainable, robust training solution to allow them to develop their capabilities.

“It’s those postgraduate training positions which are the bottlenecks, the major barrier.”

Dr Bartone said accepting more medical students from rural backgrounds and then giving those graduates rural training places was the key to the issue.

“You need to have students from a rural background, trained in a rural background and given the opportunity to develop their career in a rural background,” he said.

“The ball is firmly in the Government’s court and it is not a question of simply shifting a gear and hoping that if we produce enough medical students eventually some will sift through to rural and regional.”