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PM flies in with good news

Monday, 29th March, 2010

* Prime Minister Kevin Rudd with the RFDS' academic medical officer Dr Emma Boulton * Prime Minister Kevin Rudd with the RFDS' academic medical officer Dr Emma Boulton

By Gina Wilson The Prime Minister arrived in the city in a surprise visit yesterday and pledged almost $2 million to upgrade the city's medical student accommodation and expand the Department of Rural Health.

During a four-hour visit, Kevin Rudd said $1.9 million would be used to build new accommodation for medical, nursing, dental and allied health students who came for clinical placement in Broken Hill. He said the upgrades should help attract more people to the work in the bush.

"By providing high quality training and accommodation facilities, (we are) helping communities attract more people to work in regional and rural Australia," Mr Rudd said. "We know that doctors and health professionals who spend time training and learning in regional and rural centres often establish strong links with the local community.

"These projects will help ensure that students undertaking rural training have access to top quality facilities and encourage them to consider future careers in rural health." The head of the University Department of Rural Health, Professor David Lyle, said the university was now operating at capacity and with an expected expanded student intake of 40 per cent the new dwellings, to be built in Bromide Street, were crucial.

"We have 17 rooms now and the plan is to house a further 16 students in four dwellings," Prof Lyle said. "The plan is to have four self-contained dwellings that will each have four students. "They will each have their own room with access to a common area." While Prof Lyle was unsure when the building work would begin he said the rooms would be available for use early next year.

"The announcement today means we will now have a discussion with the Department of Health and Ageing," he said. "We hope they will be erected and finalised early next year."

Meanwhile the extension to the University Department of Rural Health will allow space for more education teams and a simulated learning environment. Prof Lyle said the new area would enable students to practice on dummies rather than people and give students feedback."It will be state of the art using simulators. For example, teaching somebody how to manage a cardiac arrest," he said."It will have video equipment and allow for feedback."

The Prime Minister said he was determined to attract more doctors, nurses and allied health professionals to country areas. "This will mean more (people living in the west) will get better access in the future to appropriate health care, regardless of their location."

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