OUTGOING Rural Doctors Association president Paul Mara sent a parting shot over the government's regional classification system.Dr Mara was replaced by Queensland doctor Sheilagh Cronin at the association's conference last weekend.
Dr Mara said the Federal Government had failed to listen to rural doctors about its Australian Standard Geographical Classification – Remoteness Areas system and District of Workforce Shortage scheme.
"We have had five years of wasted opportunity that has severely affected and created uncertainty around rural health workforce policy," Dr Mara said.
He said the Federal Department of Health and Ageing had admitted there was a massive cost blow out in the ASGC-RA scheme, which saw large regional and cities like Hobart classified the same as small towns.
"This $35 million blow-out was money that could have been better targeted and better spent," Dr Mara said.
"(The Government) simply didn't listen and have caused enormous damage."
The widespread concerns about the schemes were also outlined their annual conference in Fremantle last weekend by WA Senator Rachel Siewert.
Senator Siewert chaired a parliamentary committee which recently did an inquiry into rural health services and amongst its recommendations said the current ASGC-RA system should be replaced.
Dr Mara also took aim at the District of Workforce Shortage scheme, which is where the Government identified areas where healthcare needs were not being met.
He said the Bonded Medical Places scheme was much better placed to provide trained doctors to rural areas, but was being affected by its reliance on the 'on-again-off-again DWS scheme'.
"Many small rural towns are missing out on attracting new doctors through the BMP scheme, because they are not classified as DWS locations," Mr Mara said.
The new RDAA president Dr Cronin said both issues would be high priorities for the association during her term.