NACCHO Aboriginal #Vote1RuralHealth #VoteACCHO #AusVotesHealth : Major health groups @NRHAlliance @amapresident @RuralDoctorsAus express concern over lack of #Election2019 focus on #RuralHealth #RemoteCommunities

“ We have a crisis in rural Australia – health outcomes have not improved and we continue to see measurable disparities in levels of access to health care and health outcomes.

I note that yesterday the Australian Medical Association and the Rural Doctors Association of Australia raised similar concerns. They’re concerned about the lack of a comprehensive plan to boost the rural medical workforce and staffing levels in hospitals and health services.”

Mark Diamond  CEO National Rural Health Alliance See full press release PART 1

“It is inconceivable that millions of Australians who experience higher incidence of the drivers of chronic disease could be overlooked.

People in rural, regional, and remote Australia face many obstacles when they require access to the full range of quality medical and health services.

There are shortages of doctors and other health professionals.

It is harder to access specialist services such as maternity and mental health.

And country people often have to travel to capital cities and large regional centres for vital services such as major surgery or cancer care.”

We need to see tailored and targeted policies to address these inequities.

Rural Australians deserve nothing less.”

AMA President, Dr Tony Bartone, said today that rural Australians are still waiting to hear major announcements from the major parties to address the serious and specific health needs of rural and remote communities. See Part 2 Below

“ With less than two weeks left to go until polling day, rural doctors are calling out the major parties on their absence of a comprehensive plan to boost the rural medical workforce.

This is a cone of silence that Maxwell Smart would be proud of

There continues to be a massive maldistribution of doctors and other health professionals between urban Australia and the bush, yet this critical issue remains largely overlooked. “

President of the Rural Doctors Association of Australia (RDAA), Dr Adam Coltzau

NACCHO has developed a set of policy  10 #Election2019 recommendations that if adopted, fully funded and implemented by the incoming Federal Government, will provide a pathway forward for improvements in our health outcomes.

The current health outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are unacceptable. 65% of Indigenous people live in rural Australia.

We are calling on all political parties to include these 10 recommendations in their election platforms and make a real commitment to improving the health of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and help us Close the Gap.

Our ACCHO TOP 10 key asks of a new Federal Government

Read all the 10 Recommendations HERE

Part 1

A chorus of concern over the major parties’ failure to focus on rural health issues in the election campaign is growing, the National Rural Health Alliance says.

The peak body for rural, regional and remote health says the 7 million people living in rural Australia have been unable to discern what the big health policy announcements mean for them.

“Nor has there been a specific focus by the Liberal-Nationals Coalition and Labor on how access to health and preventive health services will be improved for them,” CEO Mark Diamond said.

“We have a crisis in rural Australia – health outcomes have not improved and we continue to see measurable disparities in levels of access to health care and health outcomes.

“I note that yesterday the Australian Medical Association and the Rural Doctors Association of Australia raised similar concerns. They’re concerned about the lack of a comprehensive plan to boost the rural medical workforce and staffing levels in hospitals and health services.

“The Greens have acknowledged that they recognize the significance of health care in rural areas and have issued a specific rural health statement which I commend them for.

“And yesterday, the Independent candidate for Indi, Helen Haines, joined the call for a boost to the allied health professions taskforce.

“Getting more allied health professionals into rural Australia is vital to address the chronic inequality of access to health services.

“This is a key part of the National Rural Health Alliance’s 2019 Election Charter.” (See www.ruralhealth.org.au/election19)

The NRHA is calling for

  • An additional 3000 Aboriginal Health Workers and practitioners
  • Increased funding for Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations (Labor has committed some funds for this)
  • An additional 3000 allied health positions
  • Trials created in 20 rural and remote sites to test for the best workforce models
  • A community grants program that communities can apply to for funds for better digital infrastructure so they can access healthcare online
  • Medicare rebates for online or telehealth consults to people in outer regional, remote and very remote areas
  • A special Mission for Rural Health created in the Medical Research Future Fund that is allocated a share of the fund proportionate to the population in rural Australia (28% = $360m)
  • A commitment to endorse the Uluru Statement and establish a Makarrata Commission for the sake of the nation’s wellbeing

Mr Diamond said parties must show they can govern for all of Australia, not just cities.

With 28% of the population and 7 million people, it’s important that all parties represent the interests of people in country areas. Rural health matters.

Part 2

AMA President, Dr Tony Bartone, said today that rural Australians are still waiting to hear major announcements from the major parties to address the serious and specific health needs of rural and remote communities.

Dr Bartone said it is surprising and disappointing that rural health remains largely neglected this far into the election campaign.

“It is inconceivable that millions of Australians who experience higher incidence of the drivers of chronic disease could be overlooked,” Dr Bartone said.

“People in rural, regional, and remote Australia face many obstacles when they require access to the full range of quality medical and health services.

“There are shortages of doctors and other health professionals.

“It is harder to access specialist services such as maternity and mental health.

“And country people often have to travel to capital cities and large regional centres for vital services such as major surgery or cancer care.

“We need to see tailored and targeted policies to address these inequities. Rural Australians deserve nothing less.”

Dr Bartone said that there will be some flow-on to rural Australia from the policies already announced by the major parties, including public hospital funding, new PBS drugs, the Government’s Rural Generalist Pathway medical training initiatives, and Labor’s cancer and seniors’ dental plans, but there are still major gaps.

“It is staggering that there was very little mention of rural health during last week’s Health Debate at the National Press Club,” Dr Bartone said.

“The situation is critical.

“Rural communities need real investment in medical infrastructure and incentives to attract more permanent doctors.

“Country towns are seeing medical services closed on them with no other options provided.

“Rural maternity services are deteriorating. Earlier this year, expectant mothers in Queensland were sent DIY birthing kits because their nearest birthing unit was too far to get to.

“Many communities are struggling with few or no doctors, and many doctors will be looking to retire in the coming years with no one there to take over for them.

“In a recent AMA poll, the top priority for our rural doctors was extra funding and resources for hospitals to support improved staffing levels, including core visiting medical officers, to allow workable rosters.

“The pressure on public hospital staff and resources is felt even more acutely in rural, regional, and remote areas.

“Training the next generation of rural doctors is a major priority. We need strategic policies that support students from rural backgrounds to study medicine.

“We want to see investment in programs that create positive training experiences for prevocational doctors in rural areas.

“We need to support these students to complete their training rurally so that they can choose to stay to live and work in rural areas and deliver the care these communities need.

“Rural Australian families need the confidence and comfort of being able to see a doctor or other health professional when they need care or advice, and to be able to get to hospital when they are sick or injured.

“It is not too late for the major parties to provide rural Australians with that security.”

The AMA’s Key Health Issues for the 2019 Federal Election calls on the major parties to:

  • provide funding and resources to support improved staffing levels and workable rosters for rural doctors, including better access to locum relief and investment in hospital facilities, equipment, and practice infrastructure;
  • expand the successful Specialist Training Program to 1,400 places by 2021, with higher priority being given to training places in regional and rural areas, generalist training, and specialties that are undersupplied;
  • fund a further 425 rural GP infrastructure grants of up to $500,000 each;
  • provide additional funding/grants to individual GPs and practices to support nonvocationally registered doctors to attain fellowship through the More Doctors for Rural Australia Program; and
  • support further reforms to medical school selection criteria for Commonwealth supported students; and introduce changes to the structure of courses so that the targeted intake of medical students from a rural background is lifted from 25 per cent of all new enrolments to one-third of all new enrolments, and the proportion of medical students required to undertake at least one year of clinical training in a rural area is lifted from 25 per cent to one-third.

The AMA’s health policy wish list – Key Health Issues for the 2019 Federal Election – is available at https://ama.com.au/article/keyhealthissues2019federalelection

 

Part 3 Rural doctors urge parties to “Get Smart”  on rural health workforce plan

With less than two weeks left to go until polling day, rural doctors are calling out the major parties on their absence of a comprehensive plan to boost the rural medical workforce.

“This is a cone of silence that Maxwell Smart would be proud of”

President of the Rural Doctors Association of Australia (RDAA), Dr Adam Coltzau, said.

“There continues to be a massive maldistribution of doctors and other health professionals between urban Australia and the bush, yet this critical issue remains largely overlooked.

“Yes, there has been funding committed by both the Coalition and Labor to kick-start a National Rural Generalist Pathway, and this is very welcome – but if the major parties think that the Pathway will be the panacea for the shortage of doctors and other health professionals in the bush, they are sadly mistaken.

“The Pathway needs to be just one component of a much wider rural health workforce strategy – one that not only delivers more Rural Generalist doctors to the bush, but also more GPs, specialists, nurses, midwives and allied health professionals.

“The challenges of accessing health services in rural areas have not been resolved, and will require the incoming government to ‘get smart’ in improving this.

“It will require a practical, big picture strategy, not just tinkering at the edges.

“It will require the incoming government to invest in more training places in the bush, so newly-minted doctors are able to access the training they need in their intern and junior doctor years.

“There is real opportunity for rural hospitals, rural general practices and other rural health settings to meet the growing demand for junior doctor training, and to keep these doctors in the bush – but the right supports will be needed to make this happen.

“More also needs to be done to increase the capacity for regional training opportunities in non-GP Specialist training and Advanced Skills posts.

“These places are largely controlled by the specialist colleges, and it is virtually impossible for young doctors to access this training outside metropolitan areas or very large regional centres.

“This makes it very difficult for those doctors who want a career as a non-GP specialist in rural Australia to follow that path.

“The lack of commitment from the major parties to fix the rural health workforce crisis is a major black hole in the election campaign – and it needs urgent attention before polling day.”

 

 

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