Rural doctors urge government action after crisis meeting

22 Jul 2021

South Australia’s rural doctors are seeking a quick and supportive response from SA Health’s Rural Support Services (RSS) to their call for a fair and respectful package of contract conditions

The call comes after AMA(SA) and the Rural Doctors Association of South Australia (RDASA) held an online mass meeting of its rural members on Wednesday, 21 July 2021. The meeting attracted the largest group of rural doctors to attend such a meeting in South Australia’s history.

Participants unanimously urged AMA(SA) and RDASA to go back to RSS and seek a commitment to accept their reform package.

The meeting came after AMA(SA) and the RDASA had spent many months representing the state’s rural general practitioners (GPs) in negotiations with RSS about the conditions under which the doctors provide services to regional hospitals. These negotiations followed the expiration of existing contracts with the rural doctors in November 2020.

In March, AMA(SA) and RDASA proposed a package that would appropriately reflect the work rural doctors do – in addition to their general practice commitments – to serve their patients and communities. The package submitted to RSS reflected rural GPs’ work in treating road accident victims, delivering babies, operating on burst appendix, and treating sports concussions and broken limbs, among other urgent medical services, at any time of the day and night.

On 13 July, AMA(SA) and RDASA shared with doctors and the public their rejection of the ‘unacceptable’ RSS response, which they warned intensifies the already crippling health crisis in South Australia’s rural communities. The online meeting on 21 July brought together doctors from across the state to express their frustration and decide next steps.

Published: 22 Jul 2021