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20 January 2013
Telehealth turns 750,000 square kms into a 'local' oncology practice
Cancer patients inQueensland's vast northern region used to travel up to 1,000 kms and be away for days to see their oncologist in Townsville. Today, they visit their local GP hospital or clinic and their oncologist is 'beamed' out to them. The success of turning 18 communities spread over 750,000 square kms into a single oncology practice was achieved in just two years. Driving it was the team at the Townsville Cancer Centre lead by the director of medical oncology, Associate Professor Sabe Sabesan, pictured.
"We started with a telehealth service to patients at the Mt Isa hospital in 2007," Dr Sabesan explains. "Before that, patients had to fly to Townsville, which meant they could be away for days just for a 10-minute appointment. It's expensive and disruptive."
Read the full story.
8 January 2013
Rural doctors and medical students ‘just as vulnerable to mental health risks’
Rural doctors and medical students on rural placements face particular challenges that can contribute to or exacerbate depression and anxiety. The range and severity of mental health risks is to be gauged as part of a national beyondblue survey of doctors and students starting next month. The survey will sample 8,000 students and 40,000 doctors, including all doctors working in rural areas.
The medical college leading the world in training for rural practice, the Australian College of Rural and Remote Medicine (ACRRM), will be represented on beyondblue’s Expert Reference Group for the beyondblue Doctors’ Mental Health Program by its Academic Director, Associate Professor Lucie Walters.
Dr Walters said that rural doctors and medical students were in something of a bind when it comes to recognising and acknowledging their personal mental health problems. (Click on the article title to read the release.)
24 October 2012
ACRRM steps towards international recognition
Just five years after gaining initial accreditation as a GP medical college, the Australian College of Rural and Remote Medicine is now gaining international recognition. ACRRM this month signed two memoranda of understanding — one of which will give its fellowship qualification reciprocal recognition in Canada; the other will allow ACRRM registrars to complete part of their training in rural South Africa.
ACRRM President, Professor Richard Murray, said that the international partnerships added an important and exciting new dimension to rural and remote medical training and practice.
"ACRRM pioneered the return of rural generalism in Australia as the best way to deliver sustainable quality medical services in rural and remote communities," Professor Murray said. "Our training and professional development programs have understandably attracted attention in countries, such as South Africa and Canada, where they have similar distributions of populations and a similar maldistribution of medical services." (Click on the title to read to the news release.)
28 September 2012 Regional and rural hospitals can train more doctors
Funding private hospitals in Sydney or Melbourne to provide extra training places for junior doctors perpetuates a chronic, if unintentional, bias against the regional and rural health services.
Professor Richard Murray, president of the Australian College of Rural and Remote Medicine, said that doctors who train in regional and rural locations are more likely to continue practicing in there.
Commenting on the Commonwealth's offer this week to fund another 100 intern places in the private health sector, Professor Murray said Australia is not short of doctors, compared with other countries.
"We have more doctors per capita than US, Canada, the UK and New Zealand. It's the distribution of doctors and specialised skills that needs to be addressed."
"If the funds go into city facilities, that's where the doctors and skills will stay. Public and private hospitals in regional and rural areas should be the priority for additional internships. Every additional doctor in these smaller facilities makes a real difference to service quality and sustainability. If all 100 additional places were allocated to rural and regional centres, it would begin to redress a metro-centric skew in medical services." (Click on the title to read to the news release.)
20 September 2012
The 'doc-of-all-trades': how medical generalism can put the black back in the bottom line
(Editorial by President, Professor Richard Murray, published in The Weekend Australian)
There is a perfect storm brewing in the Australian health system, and it will break across the country sooner than people realise. The converging elements are roaring growth in expenditure, the rising tide of demand around ageing, technology and chronic disease, health care fragmentation and sub-specialisation.
It is not for nothing that up-and-coming ministers are wary of a health portfolio. When the demand wave meets the budgetary rocks — given short electoral cycles, sensitised voters and powerful professional interests — the only certainty for our political leaders is a battering.
A recent audit of state government expenditure in Queensland illustrates the point. Health expenditure had been growing at a compound rate of 12 per cent per annum, burgeoning from 19 per cent to 26 per cent of government outlays in only a decade. Productivity in Queensland Health appears to have been dropping too — growth in patient care has not matched the trajectory for spending and workforce. Queensland is not alone of course - the parlous state of public hospital finances is to be seen around the country. (Click on the title to read to the editorial.)
4 May 2012
Health Workforce 2025: why 'more-of-the-same' in producing doctors does not add up
(Opinion piece by Prof Richard Murray on Croakey, at Crikey.com)
The much-anticipated analysis of health workforce demand and supply for doctors, nurses and midwives in Australia has just been released. Health Workforce 2025, is an important contribution for one main reason. It shows that 'more-of-the-same' for health workforce in Australia will simply not work. Full stop. Countries the world over are grappling with how to provide effective health care for all in the face of ageing, rising costs and increasing levels of chronic disease. There will be around 27 million Australians in 2025. Whereas there are 5 people of working age for every person aged 65 or more now, by 2025 that figure will be 3.5. The health workforce has to come from a pool that is shrinking relative to demand. (Click on the title to read to the news release.)
30 April 2012
The US-style 'cure' for the rural doctor shortage worse than the disease.
Despite poaching more doctors from overseas and training more in Australia, rural and remote communities could actually be worse off compared to the cities over the next decade, warns the Australian College of Rural and Remote Medicine. While welcoming the release of the national report, Health Workforce 2025, the ACRRM President, Professor Richard Murray, said that it pointed to a dreadful outcome for Australians living outside the major cities which amounted to a 'national policy emergency'. (Click on the title to read to the opinion piece.)