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Senior Patient Having Consultation With Doctor In Office

Broken regional health system needs action, not words

NSW councils have called on their State and Federal counterparts to move swiftly to fix a broken health system in rural and regional NSW, after a new report described previous efforts as a “historic failure”.

The report handed down by a NSW Parliamentary Committee this week found rural and regional communities had significantly worse health outcomes because they could not access high-standard healthcare.

The NSW Upper House Parliamentary Committee said there had been a “historic failure” to attract, support and retain doctors, nurses and other medical professionals in rural, regional and remote areas of the state.

“This Inquiry has confirmed what rural and regional communities know only too well,” Local Government NSW (LGNSW) President Darriea Turley said.

“They don’t need a report to know the struggle to access high-quality healthcare, because they live it every day.

“Councils have been saying for years that rural and regional health is in crisis.

“The time for inquiries and reports is long past, and what we need now is real action.

“The State and Federal governments must commit to funding and implementing health measures to ensure rural and regional communities have access to the health services they deserve.”

Cr Turley said rural and regional councils had done the best they could to support their communities with a range of initiatives.

“Some councils are offering medical scholarships and bursaries, subsidising the running costs of medical facilities, providing critical health infrastructure and providing housing for doctors and nurses,” she said.

“I know of at least one council spending just under five per cent of its rates revenue in a desperate bid to ensure its communities have access to health services.

“That’s five per cent that can’t be spent on all those other things rural and regional communities need.

“Councils are doing everything they can possibly do to try to ensure a decent standard of healthcare for their communities, but it is simply a drop in the bucket,” she said.

“We need real, meaningful action and investment by the State and Federal tiers of government, and we need it now.”

Cr Turley said LGNSW was working closely with the Country Mayors Association (CMA) to help drive innovative solutions to the crisis.

“I know country mayors from right across NSW are looking forward to 26 May, when the CMA hosts a special forum on the issue,” she said.