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Rural Health in Focus

ALGA has been in discussion with the National Rural Health Alliance regarding opportunities for shared advocacy, research and partnerships on rural health and community wellbeing particularly related to access to health services. Access to health services is critical for attracting and retaining people in our rural and remote communities.

ALGA is pleased to see that this is an issue that is being addressed in the upcoming Federal election.

Senator Bridget McKenzie the Minister for Regional Services and Minister for Local Government announced on Wednesday that there would be $62.2 million in the 2019-20 Budget over four years to fast track the National Rural Generalist Pathway program established by the Turnbull Government.

The program will fund initiatives such as coordinated training for rural generalists, expansion of the Rural Junior Doctor Training Innovation Fund to provide more early exposure to rural training and seeking sub-specialty recognition of rural generalist through the Medical Board of Australia. Under the program rural GP practices and hospitals would be supported by an increase in skilled staff – reducing unnecessary hospital admissions, a reliance on locum services and the need for patients to travel for key services.

Catherine King MP, the Shadow Minister for Health and Medicare, highlighted at the National Rural Health Alliance Conference on Monday that nearly $200 million would go to fixing, upgrading and in some cases building entirely new health facilities in regional and rural Australia if the ALP form government after the election.

The ALP also supports the National Rural Generalist Pathway program and its aims to get more doctors with advanced skills to rural and remote communities but this as only the beginning. If and when the strengthening of the rural medical workforce and expansion and retention of rural health services like surgery is achieved there will be the need for more nursing staff with advanced skills including midwives, theatre nurses, nurse practitioners, mental health nurses, and child health nurses, and this will follow onto allied health professionals having diverse roles.