The Greens NSW used Nowra to launch its rural and regional healthcare package ahead of the March state election.
The plan will make seeing a GP easier, establish outreach programs, and install a Rural and Remote Health Commissioner.
Upper House candidate and regional GP Dr Amanda Cohn joined Shoalhaven Mayor and candidate for South Coast, Amanda Findley, and Greens candidates Jamie Dixon (Shellharbour) and Tonia Gray (Kiama) to announce the plan.
“Your health shouldn’t depend on your postcode. But the reality is that communities across rural and regional NSW don’t have fair access to health care – in fact, on average people living in metropolitan areas of NSW live 2.2 years longer than people in regional, rural and remote areas,” Dr Cohn said.
“As a GP who has worked in rural communities across NSW, I have seen first-hand the consequences of a healthcare system that is in crisis due to decades of Liberal/National governments who have not taken sufficient action.
“This package will save lives and foster healthier communities across NSW,” Dr Cohn said.
The Greens plan will:
- Open 12 public primary care services where you can see a GP and allied health professionals for free
- Retain skilled health workers with a 15% pay rise for nurses, midwives and paramedics working in the public system and implement safe healthcare worker to patient ratios
- Replace expensive and inefficient private locum agencies with a statewide service to effectively coordinate the deployment of health workers for temporary contracts
- Establish outreach programs so that you can see a specialist closer to home
- Expand the Isolated Patients Travel and Accommodation Assistance Scheme to cover the full cost of travel upfront and get you home after a hospital admission
- Tackle the GP shortage by removing barriers for junior doctors to choose a career in general practice, and recognising the expertise of doctors with specialist post-graduate qualifications in general practice and rural and remote medicine
- Establish a Rural and Remote Health Commissioner
- Repair our regional ambulance network by hiring 1,500 new paramedics, creating a 24/7 patient transport service to free up ambulances and support and expand the Intensive Care and Extended Care Paramedics programs
South Coast candidate Amanda Findley, said: “Half of our population is dealing with one or more long term health conditions, placing more pressure on GP’s wait list and appointment times, which often blow out to weeks. Our hospitals are overwhelmed, our staff overworked and underpaid.
“There’s not even an MRI available to residents in the Milton-Ulladulla area.
“Our area needs the focus of a new government to address primary health care needs of our community. It’s unacceptable that the NSW Coalition Government has seen healthcare decline in our area over the last twelve years to the point where incorrect population data was used to underpin our hospital expansion at Nowra.
“The South Coast is experiencing a serious and growing health crisis that can be quickly turned around with targeted investment to the region,” Ms Findley said.
Greens MP and Health spokesperson, Cate Faehrman, said: “The Greens plan will start to repair the faltering regional and rural health system and ensure people living outside of our cities can expect fair and equitable healthcare services.
“The NSW Upper House Inquiry into Health Services in Regional, Rural and remote NSW, of which I was a member, revealed a system that is failing to. I heard horror stories of understaffed regional hospitals leading to completely avoidable accidents and deaths.
“People living in the regions feel like they’ve been abandoned by this Liberal-National government.
“Inadequate staffing and pay in our public health system creates a vicious cycle of poor working conditions that lead to even more staff resigning, making it extremely difficult to draw new recruits to the bush.
“The Greens plan to implement nurse to patient ratios and give nurses, midwives and paramedics a real pay rise will help stem this exodus and ensure our healthcare workers have the necessary support to deliver the quality of care they’ve been trained to deliver.”