Northern Rivers GP Andrew Binns welcomed the launch of the new Bachelor of Clinical Sciences degree at Southern Cross University last week, saying training more allied health practitioners could help the health system out of crisis.
He said the workload of GPs was already enormous and was only going to escalate as a predicted 100,000 baby boomers moved into the region over the next 25 years, bringing many health problems with them. This would require a minimum of 100 extra local GPs and he predicted the current trend of shortages was unlikely to keep up with demand.
We, at the coalface, are already overwhelmed and in crisis, he said. We badly need all the help we can get.
Dr Binns said GPs were referring patients to allied health professionals more routinely as Medicare rebates are now available for patients with chronic conditions. The rebates cover a range of disciplines including osteopathy, exercise physiology, dietetics and psychology.
It is the only way we can hope to cope with the increased demand for medical services as the population ages and poor lifestyle choices lead to an ever greater epidemic of lifestyle-related problems like diabetes and obesity, he said.
Paul Orrock from SCU said the new Bachelor of Clinical Sciences was the only degree that could lead to a specialisation in osteopathy outside of Melbourne. He said there were around 500 applicants for the Melbourne courses each year, but only 70 available places, so he expected strong demand. He said it could provide a career path in its own right or provide good preparation for a medical degree.
SCU is offering 90 places in the Bachelor of Clinical Sciences in 2007. Applications close on September 29.
For more information visit www.scu.edu.au, email firstname.lastname@example.org or phone 6620 3383.
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