BATHURST GP Doctor Pav Phanindra has called for more work to be done to recruit specialist doctors to regional areas to help address current staffing shortages.
Dr Pav, who has worked in both metropolitan and regional areas, said the difference in services between the two "is significant" and welcomed recommendations made following a recent parliamentary inquiry into regional health services.
The report released by the NSW Government earlier this month found that health systems and hospital services in rural, regional and remote areas need improving across the board.
Having worked in Wollongong for seven years and Bathurst for the past 10, Dr Pav has seen first hand the difference between metro and regional health services.
"Wollongong was a much bigger hospital which has got pretty much everything," Dr Pav said.
"Neurosurgery to cardiology, even access to imaging and radiology was a lot higher ... you can get most of the services organised there."
Dr Pav said this is not the case in regional and rural areas where residents have to travel long distances to see a doctor or receive specialist care, especially with a number of facilities not available in Bathurst.
This was one of the many points of concern in the report, especially oncology and palliative care services.
Dr Pav said not only are patients and their families having to travel to receive specialist care, they are also having to pay expenses such as fuel, accommodation and other necessities.
"Here I think we really have to work a lot, especially with the aging population and also the health inequity that we see," Dr Pav said.
"We really need to work hard on specialist services and also retaining staff and making sure the recruitment is more attractable."
Staff shortages across the healthcare board was a major issue addressed in the report and has been reflected in the community with the recent nurses strikes.
Staff shortages have also seen doctors and nurses trying to manage large workloads.
Dr Pav said looking at ways to encourage medical staff to work rurally and retain numbers is a very important factor that was highlighted by the report.
"The biggest area is the shortage in the workforce with nurses, midwives and medical staff," Dr Pav said.
"It's really hard to attract doctors to the bush."
While some doctors have been working in regional and rural areas for a long time, Dr Pav said most of the time doctors work in these locations on a short-term basis before moving to larger, metropolitan bases.
"The incentive is not strong enough for them to move is what I'm seeing from a medical point of view," he said.
"We need to find how we can provide innovative strategies and models of care to deliver the services differently."
Dr Pav said the report resulted in some "fantastic" recommendations that should be seriously looked at and he's pleased the governments are looking at what can be done differently.
"Some of the recommendations are very interesting ... and I think it will be fantastic to follow up," he said.
"I'm very pleased to see that they've looked at a lot of them."