OPINION: We need solutions to keep doctors in the regions

FOR too long, training and working in regional communities has been treated as an obligation, not a privilege.

Doctors, nurses and teachers - those serving in life-changing, vital roles - are sent, duty-bound, to do their time in communities far from home.

They then serve their obligatory few years before heading to the big city, where they wanted to be in the first place.

When it comes to medical professionals, getting them here is not enough - we need to keep them here.

We need solutions to the rural doctor shortage, not just so patients can be seen but so they can be effectively cared for in the long-term.

Explaining and re-explaining complex medical conditions to a new doctor every few years is frustrating and potentially damaging.

Finally starting to trust and count on a doctor and make some progress in treatment, only to have to start all over again with someone else, is simply not good enough.

Because as Fraser Coast Local Medical Association president Dr Nick Yim said earlier this year, GP retention is the key issue, not shortages.

Part of the answer is creating more opportunities for training, here on the Coast (Page 2).

We cannot simply accept that our best and brightest need to leave the region, sometimes never to return, to train and work.

A doctor who knows the region is better placed to care for its people.