Holidays are here. Vehicles loaded with bikes, kids and camping gear snake out of cities to beautiful beaches and idyllic country campgrounds. Sunburn, barefoot cuts, boisterous bungles, surf spills and general illness add pressure on small rural hospitals and practices, which can host up to ten times their usual populations.
Enter locums like Dr Ed Mulvey, who was welcomed with open arms at the Apollo Bay Medical Centre on the Victorian surfcoast.
"We thank Doctor Ed for his commitment to rural health, his caring and friendly nature that has been embraced by our staff and community,” said Great Ocean Road Health practice manager, Mandy Farrelly.
Many health services in holiday spots rely on locum support from Rural Workforce Agencies like RWAV, coordinator of Dr Mulvey's placement.
As the year ends, we acknowledge and thank the rural medical teams who work while we play so that we can enjoy safe and happy holidays.
12 December 2022
No matter where you are
Rural & Remote Australia
Image: Dr Ed Mulvey at his coastal placement
The demand for locums is particularly high at holiday times. Not only do resident doctors deserve a break like the rest of us, the demand at holiday destinations peaks at levels far above the quieter school term times.
Rural Workforce Agencies work closely with rural and coastal practices to help meet the demand. Apollo Bay, along with many other regional towns across Australia, face extreme workforce shortages, along with an increase in the number of patients who have recently moved to the area.
“The Apollo Bay Medical Centre is thrilled to welcome locum doctor Ed Mulvey to our health service,” said Mandy Farrelly, Great Ocean Road Health practice manager “It would not have been possible without funding and support from the Rural Workforce Agency Victoria. Our medical practice has continued to rely heavily on locum support from RWAV.”
Like their counterparts across the country, RWAV in Victoria support access to locum GPs through a free recruitment service. They also employ GPs on 3-12 month contracts to fill locum roles. This provides doctors with ongoing work and allows for a rapid response to vacancies or sudden demand.
Locum roles provide a great opportunity to experience clinical diversity and broaden the GP’s scope of practice whilst exploring rural locations. Locums provide care and support to rural communities in some of the country’s most beautiful destinations, with the bonus of a chance to enjoy stunning beaches, ski fields, inland and coastal areas.
Funded through the Commonwealth Department of Health and Aging, Rural Workforce Agencies support the costs of travel and accommodation and take care of all the coordination with the practice for all locum placements.
As well as providing GP sessional work, doctors have the option to support local hospitals and aged care facilities through Visiting Medical Officer (VMO) rights and After-hours/On-call work. These services come under considerable extra strain at holiday times.
In the 2021-22 financial year, RWAV filled 241 GP locum positions, including placements with Aboriginal Controlled Community Health Organisations (ACCHIOs).
“RWAV have been most supportive in locum and permanent staffing,” writes Judith Murray, Quality Improvement Coordinator at Njernda Aboriginal Corporation in Echuca. “The team has been helpful and efficient in their support of locum GPs. They have returned to our service on multiple occasions. We feel that it has been a mutually beneficial arrangement where we’ve been able to expose locums to a positive experience working in Aboriginal health.”
Current GP locum places in Victoria are listed on the RWAV website.
On behalf of Australia's Rural Workforce Agencies Network, we wish all our primary health staff, their communities and visitors a safe and healthy holiday season.