Short term solutions sought for medical workforce plan

Kimba mayor Dean Johnson is encouraging community members to get involved in the consultation on the Rural Medical Workforce Plan released late last month.

As the local government representative on the Rural Health Workforce Committee, Mr Johnson has had input on the plan, which aims to address the shortage of doctors and medical professionals across South Australia.

Mr Johnson said he believed the plan had some strong medium to long term strategies to get more doctors into the country through their education and into their careers.

"Long term we've seen some absolutely fantastic concepts," he said.

He said many strategies the plan outlined had been "tried and tested" in other countries facing similar shortages and he believed they would also be successful in Australia.

Mr Johnson said the Rural Generalist Pathway would be especially helpful in bringing more doctors to the country.

However, he said he had conveyed concerns that the plan had no immediate solutions to the problem, which has seen a doctor shortage across the upper Eyre Peninsula that has left Kimba and Cowell without a permanent doctor for well over a year.

"It's a really complex problem... a simple solution doesn't exist at the moment," he said.

"That's one of the things we'd like to address in the consultation."

For Kimba, the recent announcement that Dr Graham Fleming would be setting up a doctor's practice in the town three days a week has opened up opportunities to potentially attract a full-time professional.

Mr Johnson said Dr Fleming's arrival would be "an enormous win for Kimba and our residents," while also providing more opportunities for younger doctors and medical students to visit Kimba and get a feel for the town.

"It's going to be fantastic for us," Mr Johnson said.

He said experienced professionals like Dr Fleming offering to bridge the gap could be part of short term solutions to the doctor shortage.

"It's often suggested we get newly trained doctors... that's impossible," he said.

"We definitely need our experienced doctors to train the next group.

He said he hoped consultation sessions in towns across the region through September would give community members an opportunity to provide their own insight into potential solutions.

"I really encourage people to come along and have a chat," he said.

"It's people on the ground in country areas that are getting left behind."