Australia runs short of rural doctors
- By: Toby Reynolds
When former horse breaker and truck driver Dr Tony Lian-Lloyd won Australia's rural doctor of the year award, he fitted the bill in more than one way. As a solo practitioner in the Flinders Ranges town of Quorn, South Australia (population about 1500), who dips into anaesthesia, surgery, and obstetrics in hospitals up to 90 km away, Dr Lian-Lloyd epitomised the jack of all trades outback doctor. When the Australian Broadcasting Corporation reported that he was having trouble finding a locum to cover for him so that he could collect his award, his difficulties pointed to rural Australian medicine's other outstanding feature: a lack of manpower.
Australia's rural areas are short of doctors, and the problem is getting worse. Unless something is done soon to encourage practitioners to move to the countryside, rural healthcare could be impaired for years, the Australian Medical Association (AMA) has warned recently. About a third