Asking teenage school leavers to commit to a career as a bush doctor is ridiculous, as rural medicine becomes more risky and complicated, a Tasmanian health inquiry has been told.
Dr Ross Lamplugh, the head of Ochre Health, which runs medical centres across regional Australia, says he opposes programs which award government-funded university degrees to students who promise to work in the bush.
The program was recently slammed as ineffective by a federal health inquiry, which recommended it be shut down.
"Getting 17-year-old kids to decide they want to go and be a rural GP is patently ridiculous," Dr Lamplugh told the inquiry in Hobart on Tuesday.
"There's a very low proportion of people who went on the bonded scholarship program that ended up in rural areas."
The Tasmanian parliamentary committee has been looking into health outcomes in the regions for a year, coinciding with federal and NSW inquiries which identified serious deficiencies in rural health.
Dr Lamplugh said rural doctors need access to telehealth to connect them with more experienced colleagues and build their confidence and skills.
"Everyday I work as a doctor, I'm more likely to get sued than I was yesterday," Dr Lamplugh said.
"There's a more litigious society emerging, but also medicine is getting more complicated by the day.
"If you're going to ask someone to work in Queenstown, they've got to have really good access to help."
A NSW parliamentary inquiry recently made 44 recommendations to improve healthcare in rural areas, including an urgent workforce review.
At a community forum in Griffith, in the state's south west, Dr Marion Magee, said there is no long view of the rural health system because it is run by governments, with limited local insight.
"It is as silly as someone in Sydney to tell us how to run our health in Deniliquin as it is for people in Deniliquin to tell Sydney how to run their health," the local GP told the forum on Friday night.
"The hub and spoke method is not working. The money goes to the hubs and it gets spent in the hubs it does not come to the spokes."
Australian Associated Press
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