Statement/Letter to the editor on rural health
Tuesday, 8 September 2015
Senator the Hon Fiona Nash
Assistant Minister for Health
8 September 2015
On the second anniversary of the Coalition Government, I wanted to update rural, regional and remote readers of real changes we’ve made to improve their healthcare.
Rural and remote people who have a pacemaker fitted won’t need to travel to have it checked anymore, because new technology means it can be checked remotely. We added this technology to the Medicare system so government covers the cost.
Remote people will be able to see their optometrist via “Telehealth” consultations using the internet - we listed these on Medicare too.
Small country towns will soon have more doctors following changes I made to rural doctor incentives. I redirected $50 million which Labor was wasting paying doctors extra money to practice in big regional cities like Townsville (population 174,000) and used it to boost incentives doctors receive to practice in rural and remote towns.
In future more doctors will practice in the bush because more medical students will train in the bush thanks to $238 million to increase payments to doctors teaching them, creating more places. This means more medical students training in rural Australia – and we know more doctors practice in the country if they trained there.
More interns will train in rural, regional and remote Australia, because we’ve put $40 million into creating more intern places in private hospitals in rural areas.
We also increased obligations for medical scholars to work in the bush as part of the conditions of the scholarship.
We know there aren’t enough doctors in the bush but we’re doing all we can to change this.
Rural and remote people will benefit from the extra $20 million we’ve provided to the Royal Flying Doctors Service – bringing its budget up to $136 million a year. Australia is in tough financial times but the RFDS is very important.
We’re also the first Federal Government to ever tackle the issue of the drug “ice” head-on.
Rates of ice use in regional, rural and remote Australia are double what they are in the capital cities. The 2015 Australian Crime Commission report stated organised crime is targeting regional areas with this terrible drug.
The National Ice Taskforce is due to report to Government this month.
Les White 0409 805 122