Improved access to local doctors a 'boost' for regional Australia

04 May, 2015

Minister for Health Sussan Ley has announced regional communities are benefiting from improved access to a local doctor with 81 graduates having commenced in Australian Government-funded medical internships in 2015.

Ley said rural patients are benefiting from medical graduates being placed in regional communities throughout Australia to complete all or part of their internship year.

"The Australian Government is determined to improve access to health care in regional and rural Australia to assist patients to receive the care they need earlier," Ley said.

"Increased access to a doctor in local regional communities is part of the government's ongoing commitment to bring rural health outcomes more in line with those of metropolitan Australia."

Through the $40 million Commonwealth Medical Internship (CMI) initiative eligible Australian-trained international medical graduates can work and train in many regional centres.

"Many communities, particularly in regional and rural Australia, rely on doctors from overseas to support their health care needs.

"Experience shows that by being placed in regional areas trainee doctors often choose to stay and practise medicine in the communities or regions where they undertake their training."

CMI participants are required to complete a 48 week return of service period in a regional, rural or remote location; meaning many regional communities will continue to benefit beyond 2015.

States and territories provide internship places for all Commonwealth-supported domestic medical students. However, eligible international students graduating from Australian medical schools in the past risked missing out on the training needed to obtain registration as doctors.

The organisations receiving Government funding to provide the CMI initiative in 2015 include  Ramsay Health Care Investments Limited; Mercy Health and Aged Care Central Queensland Limited; Mater Health Services North Queensland; and St Vincent's & Mater Health Sydney Limited.

The Government has committed $40 million over four years from 2013-14 to support the placement of up to 100 additional medical interns each year through the CMI initiative.