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Rural Health Multidisciplinary Training (RHMT) Programme
  • Funding will continue to end of 2018 at existing levels
  • Existing funding agreement schedules have been extended for 6 months to align with academic cycles and allows consultation process around national program parameters and options for future reform
  • DoH is not going to be able to fix the problems of the impact that short term funding extensions have on staffing recruitment. There might be space for discussion with DoH and universities about how critical long term appointments are made so as to avoid this problem. No prospect of 5-10 funding. Department has noted concerns.
  • Consultation process underway – Framework distributed to stimulate debate and department is open to ideas
  • Written submissions received by most everyone about the RHMT framework and follow up consultations have commenced.
  • Feedback sought from other key stakeholders – National Rural Health Students Network, Australian Indigenous Doctors Association, and the Australian Medical Students Association
  • Spoken to the AMA, RACGP and ACCRM about some key aspects of what DoH is doing
  • Face to face consultations will continue until June, then Ministerial approval will be sought for the overall national Framework
  • Feedback on consultations – overall universities are supportive of proposed Framework, there is support for streamlining funding arrangements, reducing the reporting burden and red tape, reducing duplication and universities like idea of greater flexibility in how they manage their budgets and they have been receptive to the protections built in to the Framework to make sure there is still a genuine rural training program delivered by rural academics, administrators and professionals staff.
  • No argument re the 5% infrastructure charge target
  • Some concern around the 30% rural origin targets that are designed to match the department’s target with the rural population share and the government really needs to achieve growth in that area.
  • Also concern about the potential for a competitive environment between universities for a fairly small pool of candidates and the impact that might have on academic standards. Helpful to get a bit more evidence and hard numbers around that rather than just assertions. Department understands that it reflects the demographics of universities.
  • Mixed views on the definition ‘Rural origin’ that has been put forward. Department is open to ideas about a better definition.   Core of the definition is about growth of rural origin students studying medicine because research shows pretty good outcomes linked to that.
  • Enrolment and graduation targets for ATSI students. There is a need to be able to quantify targets not just have spoken aspirational targets. Proposal to do this on a university by university basis which reflects the demography. Students need to be better supported and mentored and not just enrolled so that we get more completing Indigenous doctors.
  • Mixed views on the reduction of the 4 week short term placement target for all medical students. This reduction is not compulsory and Universities will have the flexibility to continue if they feel it fits into the curriculum or is achieving good outcomes. It is resource intensive so universities must balance their resources.
  • Mixed reactions to the idea of ‘rural stream’. Some confusion about the wording and some perception that it will lock Urban students out. DoH is suggesting that there is a good selection system of prioritising who gets those precious rural placements to try and maximise outcomes.   Preferential selection systems should not just be based on academic merit but a combination of factors most likely to generate better workforce outcomes.
  • Rural Health Research plan – Definition of ‘eligible’ research is contentious and maybe too narrow. If research is to be funded then it must be clearly linked to program outcomes. It is important to imbed research into rural training academic programs and have targeted rural health research that provides direct benefits to rural communities in terms of improving their health outcomes.
  • John Flynn Placement program - From consultations held so far feedback indicates that some universities are pretty keen to take on this role in managing holiday placements for their students and linking them to their overall rural training program. More discussion needed, but should look at the JF program for workforce outcomes not just as a student entitlement. If universities do take this on, then there would be funding to support this.
  • Medical Training – Concept of Rural multidisciplinary training targets to be set by each university. Should pick up on existing Rural Health training activity in Allied Health and Nursing. Take steps to strengthen and have more well structured, well supported, longer term multidisciplinary placements.
  • DOH has had feedback that the Framework does not include a focus on inter-disciplinary learning. Not intentional and are happy to look at that. More resourcing is merited in this area but there is no huge infrastructure bucket available and unlikely to get one. Universities who receive funding through multiple streams will need to undertake a careful balancing act to work out how to use those streams to get the best outcomes.
  • DoH has put the onus back on to faculties for resourcing of these arrangements. Have built in protections in the Framework listing the key rural training sites to make sure those are maintained and encouraging universities to make sure that their employment arrangements are based on rural academic and professional staff.
  • Consultations will continue and then there will be very some detailed negotiations around funding agreements for the next 3 years. Department is well aware that these agreements need to be in place before the end of the year.
Rural Generalism – Update from 2nd World Summit
Professor Richard Murray and A/Prof David Campbell gave a brief update from the 2nd World Summit which was held in Montreal, Canada from the 8-9th April 2015. Further information can be obtained from the attached presentation.
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