Expenses cap a poor fit for rural doctors

ROSE City medical professionals will be thousands of dollars out of pocket if the Federal Government passes a cap on work-related professional development expenses.

The Australian Medical Association fears that doctors in regional areas will be unfairly affected if the cap is passed.

"They're preventing professionals from achieving a higher level of standards as they won't be able to access the same quality of professional training that they are currently doing," said AMA spokesperson Kirsty Waterford.

"There are professionals who are required by law to do certain amounts of professional development each year. Doctors have to achieve a certain amount of points."

The Government intends to introduce a cap of $2000 for professional training by July next year. "But many doctors spend well over that," said Ms Waterford.

Warwick GP, Dr Lynton Hudson described the cap "as a joke".

"It's very important if someone's looking after you that they have the latest knowledge," he said.

Dr Hudson said it would put a significant strain on the region's health care.

"Out here we have to learn a range of skills because we are rural GPs," he said.

"We don't have the expertise immediately around us like city doctors.

"I do anesthetics on top of being a GP as there is no anesthetist in town.

"I have to do separate courses for that. These courses are very specialised."

He said that the average cost of professional development is over $2000 a course plus the cost of travelling.

"My feeling is that the government doesn't understand that doctors need to keep up to date to look after patients correctly," Dr Hudson said.

"They need to start a dialogue with professionals."

Warwick pharmacy intern, Claire Purcell said that $2000 will not come close to covering the expected levels of training required for professional practice.

"My own training for my internship cost about $2000. If you consider the other expenses like conferences, it does add up."

"I'm sure everyone's hoping it won't come through as it will affect all health professionals."

"It's a continuing education just to keep up to date. Education is really a tool of our practice."

Mrs Purcell hopes to keep practicing in Warwick when she is fully qualified.

However, she said that the proposed caps will not affect quality of care in the area. "It will just make it more difficult."

"It won't stop us from participating in professional development as it's so necessary. It just makes it less accessible."

The Federal Treasury did not respond to the Warwick Daily News.

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