I REFER to your article "Money not top concern: doctor" (August 13, page 3) and the National University Rural Health Conference in Creswick to which it referred.
The issue of attracting and accommodating more doctors in rural and regional Australia is an important and challenging one which is being addressed by the Gillard government.
There are no magic solutions, but initiatives underway in Ballarat and region typify one approach we are adopting.
At this very moment the government is spending, through assistance to various universities, around $6 million to provide accommodation across this region for medical students who are training here.
We have already or are currently investing significantly on expanding medical centres in this region, including the $3.3 million expansion at the Ballan GP Super Clinic and nearly $500,000 on the recently completed redevelopment at the medical centre in Creswick.
The government also supported development of the new Springs Medical Centre in Daylesford with a $500,000 commitment and later supported a subsequent expansion of that facility.
These and other similar investments enable these practices to accommodate and train more medical staff, many of whom may ultimately make decisions to stay practicing in regional areas.
In addition, from now on most of the nation's new surgeons, emergency medicine specialists, psychiatrists, radiologists, obstetricians and other kinds of specialists will spend part of their training in rural or regional hospitals and communities.
From our discussions with regional communities we know how important it is to retain a
number and level of quality health professionals.