There are 84 GP’s per 100,000 people in rural and remote Australia and of those only 33% are female. 1
Lack of access to female doctors for women living in rural and remote communities means that women may not always obtain health advice and treatment in sensitive areas such as the prevention of cervical and breast cancer, fertility control, menopause, domestic violence and many other health issues.
If you are lucky enough to have a local female GP then you would be among the minority in rural and remote communities in Australia.
The RFDS recognises the needs of women living in outback Australia and continually strives to develop ongoing strategies to improve access to services and information.
One of these strategies is the Rural Women’s General Practice Service (RWGPS), which is funded by the Commonwealth Government Department of Health and Ageing. The overall aim of the program is to promote, maintain and improve the health and well-being of women living in rural and remote parts of Australia, with specific objectives to:
- provide female general practitioner services to rural and remote communities with little or no access to a resident female general practitioner;
- focus service delivery on preventative health care;
- cooperate with and complement existing local and visiting health care services;
- deliver services in such a way as to ensure continuity of client care;
- consider cultural diversity within communities and its influence on service delivery; and
- regularly review service provision to ensure that services are being appropriately allocated to communities of greatest need.
The program provides patients in designated rural areas with access to doctors of female gender on a regular visiting basis (up to once a month), for a full range of general practice services. The visits are in partnership with local GPs, who host the visiting doctor and provide the local infrastructure. While the program is primarily for women, it is available to the wider community and offers a choice of doctor.
In any given year, over 17,000 patients are seen in over 1,000 clinics as part of the program. Many clinics are conducted in areas where the RFDS has not traditionally provided clinic services and as a result, RFDS services have significantly expanded across Australia.
To find a clinic near you choose a state from the RFDS Directory.