How many doctors does a two-doctor town need? The answer isn’t two, but three — one more than an "efficient" health service might dictate. So says Dr Paul Worley, an Australian rural medicine expert, who believes that perpetually "lean" systems can only end up in crisis, for both town and doctors alike. Further, important matters like preventive medicine cannot be attended to because they are deemed "non-urgent", and the consequences of this coping strategy will come home to haunt future generations. Dr Worley believes the solution to the rural workforce problem lies in setting higher workforce targets and to meeting these not by continuing the "intellectual pillage" of other nations but rather by training more of our own health professionals.
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