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Half a Million Dollars Offered for GPs With Expertise in Anesthetics and Obstetrics

Are you a doctor, with expertise in anesthetics and obstetrics? You wont mind chipping in as a general practitioner too?

You can then make a beeline for Temora, a country town in New South Wales in Australia. Its mayor Peter Speirs is offering you half a million dollars.

He fears that if the town doesn't get a suitable person, expectant mothers will have to travel an extra 80 kilometres to give birth. And many of these women would already have travelled 150 kilometres from outlying areas to access medical services in the town, says Peter Speirs.

He said Temora's offer to doctors was "a very desperate move" necessitated by the town's "very substantial need".

Those who join would also have to agree to stay at least five years. "It's a sliding scale, if we don't attract the full three, if we only get a GP with one or two, then the grant goes down accordingly," Mr Speirs told Sky News.

"Without anaesthetics we run a very big risk of losing our obstets out of our hospital and that would be a serious blow to our community.

"Most patients would have to travel further south, down to Wagga Wagga, which is nearly 80 additional kilometres ...

"Of the 135 births in Temora last year, many of those have come up to 150 kilometres north, north-west, north-east of Temora, so it's a very big catchment and a very substantial need."

Asked why he thought doctors needed an incentive to live in Temora, Mr Speirs said professional isolation was a problem.

"With doctors, there is a need for networking at a professional level within those skills," he said.

Also, many young doctors were not turning their hand to general practice, but going in for very selective, specialist fields.

Speirs said Temora shire employed a service provider that ran one of the medical practices, and that company was putting up the money to attract a doctor with the necessary sk ills.

The Australian Medical Association (AMA) has urged the Federal Government to implement the recommendations of a report on how to help rural communities retain their doctors.

The AMA has obtained the report, titled Review of the Rural Retention Program, under Freedom of Information laws.

It says the program is helping to retain GPs in rural and remote areas.

"This report contains practical and affordable ongoing solutions to the rural medical workforce crisis," AMA federal president Rosanna Capolingua said.

"This report shows that the RRP has been successful and will continue to be successful in making country practice attractive and rewarding - but only if the program is properly supported," Dr Capolingua said.

The AMA says the report recommends increasing the value of payments under the RRP, making them non-taxable, and expanding the program to include non-financial support.


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