Coalition's focus on improving health service access for regional Australians

Persistent inequalities in access to health services in regional Australia will be a major focus of the new Assistant Minister for Health, Senator Fiona Nash.

Page last updated: 31 October 2013

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31 October 2013

Persistent inequalities in access to health services in regional Australia will be a major focus of the new Assistant Minister for Health, Senator Fiona Nash.

Addressing the largest Rural Medicine Australia Conference ever held, Minister Nash told its 650 delegates in Cairns today that her aim in government is to ensure better access and equity to health services for people living in regional, rural and remote communities.

“There will be more time and effort put into consulting local professionals and communities about their needs,” Minister Nash said.

"Regarding training, the Coalition Government will provide $40 million over the forward estimates to support up to 100 additional intern places each year in private hospitals and non-traditional settings, during the current period of growth of student numbers. Priority will be given to positions and rotations in rural and regional areas.

"Training for existing doctors and nurses in rural areas is also vital to keep up their skill levels and allow them to develop as professionals. The Government will provide $13.4 million for an additional 500 scholarships for nurses and allied health professionals, and allow more rural allied health workers to take leave, on top of the 100 allied health locum placements provided each year.

"Further, the Government will invest $119 million to double the Practice Incentive Program (PIP) Teaching Payment for GPs who provide teaching opportunities with an additional benefit paid to those in rural and remote areas. GP practices can also apply for expansion grants for teaching infrastructure based on an equal financial commitment, starting next July.

“Our vision is for a sustainable system that delivers quality health outcomes for all Australians, including Indigenous Australians whose health and well-being are a key priority for this Government.

“We will endeavour to break the cycle of disadvantage by working closely with the states and territories, Indigenous communities and other organisations, including professional bodies such as the Rural Doctors Association of Australia (RDAA) and the Australian College of Rural and Remote Medicine (ACRRM)."

Minister Nash will meet with the RDAA and ACRRM, and visit James Cook University to discuss rural and remote health needs during her visit.

Media contact: Nicky McMillan 0439 438 500

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