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Lifestyle and livability factors for recruiting remote GPs | The Examiner


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Lifestyle and livability are factors being considered by GPs when choosing where to practice in Australia. With some practises losing out financially under the Commonwealth’s Rural Health Workforce Plan, two Tasmanian health services have suggested lifestyle was also a driving factor for many GPs. The Royal Flying Doctors Service chief executive John Kirwan said adequate pay, while important, was not the only reason health care workers would choose to work in rural and remote areas. “Interestingly enough, a lot of the younger generation, as we’ve seen, aren’t necessarily motivated just by money, they want to do something meaningful, they want to make sure they’ve also got a lifestyle,” he said. READ MORE: Small business owners plead with government as COVID numbers ramp up Mr Kirwan said young doctors and health professionals could be motivated to work in remote or regional areas if support was available. “We need to make sure that the on-call isn’t onerous. The old days of a GP in a country town by themselves working 70 to 80 hours a week, plus being on call just isn’t going to work for some people,” he said. “Telehealth has improved things, but sometimes it’s not the same as being able to just grab the local physio or the local OT or the social worker or other services. “It’s these wraparound issues that influence generations in respect to, will they stay in a place.” Newstead Medical GP, Dr Daniel Kirk is originally from Western Australia and said he and his wife, also a doctor, chose to move to Launceston, in part for the lifestyle. “The size of Launceston, sort of ticked a lot of boxes for us, not too big, not too small, but has still got everything that you need,” he said. “It only takes us five minutes to get to work and if we want to get out somewhere else it’s pretty easy to do that, whether that’s to Melbourne or back to Perth if we need to, it’s easy peasy to do that, but also just get out into the country or to the beach.” Dr Kirk echoed the comments made by Mr Kirwan. “People like to be supported,” he said. “In terms of other doctors, they don’t like to feel like they’re out in a place by themselves, without any other services. While Dr Kirk is based in Launceston, more remote and regional GPs continue to struggle to recruit and retain staff, with several clinics scaling back services recently. General Practice Training Tasmania chief executive Judy Dew said remote clinics unable to retain long term GP often relied on contractors, who were also driven by lifestyle. READ MORE: Travel-hungry tourists finally make it to Tasmania “A locum is a doctor who’s probably a contractor who’s been flown in, to do a short time they might only do three months or something like that as a GP and then they fly out again,” she said. “They tend to move around a lot. It’s something of a lifestyle that some doctors, not only GPs, quite enjoy.” Ms Dew said while locums were useful for filing short term positions, they did not provide the same service a community GP could provide. “I think that there are those out there who really enjoy that type of work, they enjoy a bit of variety,” she said. “In the summertime, you could go and work somewhere which is nice and beachy for a while and do a short stay and then off you go again, but it doesn’t support continuity of care.” Andrew Chounding is The Examiners Health Reporter, if you have a health-related story please email Andrew.chounding@examiner.com.au Our journalists work hard to provide local, up-to-date news to the community. This is how you can continue to access our trusted content:

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