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Senate inquiry announced into rural workforce

Supply of doctors and nurses in regional Australia to be examined by senate committee.

The factors affecting the supply of health services and medical professionals in regional communities will be the subject of a senate inquiry announced in October.

Under the inquiry's terms of reference, the committee will determine the factors limiting the supply of medical, nursing and allied health professionals to small regional communities. These important factors will be compared with major regional and metropolitan centres.

The inquiry will also investigate the effectiveness of the Rural Relocation Incentive Grant scheme. The president of the Rural Doctors Association of Australia (RDAA), Dr Paul Mara, has welcomed the move.

"The scheme that determines the incentive payments received by doctors in rural towns has received widespread criticism from doctors working in small communities," Mara said.

"Our members have been advising us of the adverse effect it is having on their medical practices, and we has been calling for a review of the Australian Standard Geographical Classification - Remoteness Areas (ASGC-RA) system since it was first mooted several years ago.

The inquiry will examine whether the current classification system ensures appropriate distribution of funds and delivers on intended outcomes. The final report is due by April 30 2012.

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