By Jane Bardon
The Rural Doctors Association of Australia is suggesting the federal and state governments should provide fly-in, fly-out mental health services to offset staff shortages in regional and remote areas. It says the federal government’s announcement yesterday it’s expanding access to mental health staff under Medicare and setting up new rural clinics will not be effective unless workers can be persuaded to go to work in the bush.
Association president Dr Ross Maxwell says so far government policies have failed to get enough medical professionals to live in the bush, so funding for travel, and temporary accommodation in rural areas is needed so that city staff can be brought in for consultations.
Dr Maxwell says remote consultation services using the internet, video conferencing and telephone should also be funded.
“There have to be other strategies about how you might actually bring psychologists into those areas, perhaps have them working for a short period of time, but to be working, perhaps doing flyin flyout type services or consideration for non face to face delivery of psychology services.”