Will a federal injection of $800.3 million resolve the rural and regional health services crisis?
Federal Regional Health Minister and Member for Parkes, Mark Coulton has said that “all Australians, regardless of where they live, should have access to high quality health care”, but this is not the case.
Rural and regional communities are facing a health services crisis so severe a state parliamentary inquiry was established in September 2020. The inquiry, set to report on health outcomes and access to health services, has so far exposed a dangerous lack of GP’s, overworked local staff and a broken system.
Gunnedah Shire Council was one of many local representations to make a public submission into the inquiry, complaining the region has just one GP per 3000 residents. A ratio believed to be the highest and most alarming in the Hunter New England Health area.
Gunnedah Mayor Jamie Chaffey has demanded the state government appoint a specific minister to fix the rural health crisis. A full time Minster for Rural Health is required to sort out the intense shortage of GPs and other medical health staff in the bush.
The Australian Government has announced today an investment of $800.3 million to improve the health of Australians in regional, rural and remote areas, ensuring all Australians have access to quality health care services.
Federal Regional Health Minister, Mark Coulton said the 2021-22 Federal Budget supports bold, new rural workforce and training measures designed to further deliver the Government’s ten-year Stronger Rural Health Strategy.
“Regional Australia is driving Australia’s economic recovery from COVID-19, and through our investment in the health portfolio in the 2021-22 Budget we continue to provide support to enable the regions and our local communities to prosper and grow,” Minister Coulton said.
Minister Coulton has announced more than 12,000 GPs will be eligible for a higher bulk billing incentive.
“Enhancing the financial viability of GP practices in rural towns and remote areas is just one of the things governments need to do to ensure we are attracting doctors to where they are needed most” Mr Coulton said.
The Parliamentary Inquiry into health outcomes for rural and regional NSW continues, with the next two hearings to be livestreamed after a successful motion, put forward by Greens MP and health spokesperson Cate Faehrmann, demanded transparency.