A new deal with plastic surgeons aims to remedy some of the problems the NT experiences attracting health professionals to the Top End.
Many Territorians generally need to travel to southern states or Brisbane to see specialists, a problem which has grown during pandemic restrictions.
Now the NT's Health Department is working with the Australian Society of Plastic Surgeons to attract surgeons to Darwin and Palmerston hospitals.
Surgeons from the society have agreed to participate in a two-year rolling roster of specialist plastic surgeons from across Australia.
As part of the rotation, the surgeons will complete six-week to three-month stints at Darwin and Palmerston hospitals and in some instances relocate family for the duration of their stay.
Currently in its second rotation, the surgeons undertake a range of specialised plastic surgery procedures including procedures for trauma, burns, cancer and reconstruction.
Patients who suffer traumas in critical emergency settings will be able to access treatment they may have previously had to have travelled interstate for.
The society says it has about a dozen members indicating their desire to participate in the Darwin program and also creates training opportunities for local surgeons to further develop their skills.
Health Minister Natasha Fyles said: "All Territorians deserve access to high quality health care and services here at home, and our frontline health care workers do a fantastic job day in, day out.
"Partnerships such as this allow for locally delivered procedures that are even more specialised that what we are traditionally able to offer which is fantastic.
"It is also pleasing the Australian Society of Plastic Surgeons have so much interest in the Darwin rotation; there will be no shortage of surgeons over the two year duration of this partnership."
Dr William Blake, Monash Health, said: "Surgeons are aware of the need for specialist care on the ground in regional and especially indigenous communities; we want to establish plastic surgery training in the Top End as quickly as possible.
"I am looking forward to a broad scope of cases in Darwin including trauma, skin cancers, hand trauma and complex reconstructions and the opportunity to work with the indigenous community."
Meanwhile, progress is being made towards the rollout of the Commonwealth-funded Rural Generalist Training Pathway in the Territory.
The Rural Doctors Association of Australia is this week meeting with the newly established Rural Generalist Support and Coordination Unit in Darwin, which will be responsible for ensuring that junior doctors wanting to become RGs have a structure available to guide and support them.
RDAA president, Dr John Hall, said Rural Generalism is the key to maintaining or expanding services across the NT.
"A Rural Generalist is the old style country doctor, that many remember with fondness, with a modern day spin. A GP, who also has the skills to treat any emergency that come through the door, as well as advanced skills in one or more areas such as Aboriginal Health, Obstetrics, Anaesthetics, Mental Health or Surgery, just to name a few.
"This style of doctor is essential to almost all medical services across the NT, where is most places there just isn't enough regular need to maintain teams of specialists that can only practice in ONE of those areas.
"All RGs, with their broad range of clinical skills, can provide a much more comprehensive service in their communities," Dr Hall said.
"RGs work alongside their consultant specialist colleagues so that in places like Alice Springs and Katherine Hospitals can provide a high level of quality service close to home, as well as also support community-based general practice.
"In remote areas RGs are a great asset, providing a broad range of services close to home, with back up via video conference to specialists for advanced presentations. Only those patients with very complex conditions need to be flown out.
"We are excited to see the Support and Coordination Unit up and running with the support of both the NT Government and the Federal Government, as this is the first step towards the NT meeting the national rollout of the RG program."
While in the Top End, RDAA will be hosting a #DestinationRural event in Darwin on Wednesday evening, outlining the new RG Pathway and what that means for for interested medical students and junior doctors.
"We are looking forward to seeing this fledgling program get off the ground in the Territory, and know that it will provide interesting, challenging and rewarding options for many young doctors looking for an exciting, and now well-supported, career path."
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