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National Rural Health Commissioner visits Darling Downs

14 March 2018

National Rural Health Commissioner, Professor Paul Worley, (back) meets with Darling Downs Hospital and Health Service staff (front, from left) Dr Hwee Sin Chong, Warwick Hospital director of nursing Anita Bolton and Dr Dilip Dhupelia.

Australia’s first National Rural Health Commissioner toured the Darling Downs Hospital and Health Service (DDHHS) region this week to learn more about the service’s successful Queensland Rural Generalist Program.

Emeritus Professor Paul Worley travelled from his home state of South Australia to visit Toowoomba, Goondiwindi, Stanthorpe and Warwick hospitals.

The three-day tour was an opportunity for DDHHS staff to showcase how the Queensland Rural Generalist Program (QRGP) is helping to recruit, train and retain suitably qualified medical staff in regional and rural areas.

"Professor Worley’s visit was a fantastic opportunity to show how the QRGP is being successfully implemented across the Darling Downs Hospital and Health Service," Queensland Rural Medical Service Executive Director Dr Hwee Sin Chong said.

"The supported program aims to recruit and train doctors to provide them the breadth of skills needed to care for a rural community. They also develop one or two advanced skills in a specialised medical field.

"Graduands of the program are known as ‘Rural Generalists’ and are highly sought after across the state for their unique skill sets.

"We hope this visit will inform Professor Worley, in his role as National Rural Health Commissioner, to help establish a National Rural Generalist Program."

The QRGP was instigated in 2005 by a group of medical officers keen to develop a supported training pathway for doctors interested in rural medicine.

The program has grown greatly with almost 300 medical officers currently involved in the program.

Doctors can enter the program at various stages of their career, and can specialise in mental health, adult internal medicine, anaesthetics, obstetrics and paediatrics.

"We are proud of what we are achieving across the Darling Downs and I enjoyed highlighting these successes at a national level," Dr Chong said.

Last updated: 14 March 2018