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Attracting foreign doctors key to fixing health system: Australia minister

Canberra, Feb 5 (IANS) Australian Health Minister Mark Butler has identified attracting more foreign doctors as key to fixing the country’s health system.

The minister said on Sunday that a review into general practice (GP) should investigate ways to attract more foreign health workers to Australia and have their existing qualification recognised, Xinhua News Agency reported.

Federal, state and territory leaders agreed on Friday to the review of GP before they address widespread problems in the health system later this year.

A separate report on Medicare, Australia’s universal health care system, made recommendations to improve the accessibility and affordability of health care.

Butler, who has said Medicare is in the worst condition in its 40-year history, believed attracting more GPs would relieve pressure on the whole system.

“It’s about going overseas and recruiting as an Australian healthcare system doctors and nurses and other health care professionals to come to Australia,” he told Sky News Australia.

“I think the premiers and chief ministers recognised that last week, they’re seeing the pressure on their hospital systems because of the problems in general practice. If we don’t turn that around, then the whole of our healthcare system is going to be under enormous pressure.”

Additionally, the government has flagged giving pharmacists the ability to prescribe medications for common conditions rather than requiring a GP visit.

According to the Pharmacy Guild of Australia (PGA), the measure would circumvent 6.5 million GP visits every year.

Butler said it “doesn’t make sense” to have health workers not working to the full extent of their training.

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