LGNSW Communications

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Improve Rural and Regional Health Services

While healthcare is a state and federal government responsibility, councils often find themselves with no choice but to take on additional responsibilities to support their communities. LGNSW has long recognised the need for adequate funding by the NSW and Australian Governments, and has strongly supported the full implementation of the recommendations handed down this year by the Inquiry into Rural and Regional Health Services.

It was pleasing to see additional funds announced for the Isolated Patients Travel and Accommodation Scheme (IPTAAS), announced by the Government prior to the Budget and confirmed in the Budget papers yesterday. The further confirmation that palliative care and specialist health services would receive $743 million over five years, allowing the employment of 600 additional medical professionals and staff as well as the refurbishment of NSW Health facilities is also good news.

LGNSW would simply urge the Government to ensure the distribution of the extra staff and palliative care services is spread geographically across the state, ensuring that the urgent need of rural and regional NSW is met.

Council expenditure to attract and retain suitably qualified health practitioners to regional and rural communities includes health infrastructure, health scholarships, subsidising running costs of medical facilities and providing housing and accommodation incentives for the medical workforce. While our calls for an annual local government rural and regional health reimbursement scheme went unanswered, we welcome the commitment of $210m - $883.1 over four years – to boost the regional health workforce, including recruitment and retention incentives.