Health is not just about doctors and hospitals. It incorporates aged care, mental health care, allied health services dentistry and general medical services. It is vital regional people have access to health services – ranging from nursing posts in remote areas to a doctor in a regional town, to specialists in major regional centres.
In government, the NSW Nationals have invested record amounts of funding to deliver better regional healthcare and improve regional health outcomes. We have helped lessen the gap in healthcare services across regional NSW and secured the Murray-Darling Medical School, but people living outside the metropolitan area still suffer poorer health outcomes than their city cousins.
We continue to advocate for more regional doctors, greater patient travel assistance, investment in infrastructure and technologies to assist regional health service delivery and adequate trauma response through St John Ambulance, Royal Flying Doctor Service, telehealth and emergency rescue helicopter services.
Expanding our workforce
The NSW Nationals in Government are undertaking the largest ever health and allied health workforce boost, recruiting 8300 more workers in this term of government.
We are ensuring regional NSW will receive nearly half of this workforce boost, with more than 3700 staff to be recruited into country towns and regional cities, including nurses, midwives, doctors, allied health and support staff. This workforce boost will ensure even better services across the entire health system – from care in the home, to Emergency Departments, to operating theatres. The NSW health system will be stronger than ever.
This means the best standard of patient care, faster response times, reduced surgery waiting times and greater social, pharmaceutical, and mental health support.
There should never be any stigma associated with mental illness and people in need should have access to appropriate support, understanding and treatment.
With a dedicated Minister for Mental health and Regional Youth in government, the NSW Nationals believe in funding community programs to promote mental health and wellbeing, starting early intervention strategies and ensuring affordable treatment options are.
Youth mental health programs have shown success in educating young people how to support others, as well as finding those at risk through early intervention programs and then more targeted strategies.
The most important challenge facing regional NSW is ensuring our young people get the opportunities they deserve.
The NSW Nationals in Government are providing every public high school in regional NSW with two dedicated mental health experts and access to a team of specialist psychologists.
Drugs and alcohol
The use of drugs and alcohol in our society causes a range of issue for users, their families, and the community.
The NSW Nationals support rehabilitation and sobering-up centres to help people to recover from alcohol and/or drug abuse. Well-resourced intensive treatment and recovery programs with follow up counselling for users and affected family members will supply the best long-term outcomes for families.
We also support mandatory drug and alcohol education programs in schools to ensure students are aware of health dangers associated with use.
People living with a disability need proper services and support structures to enjoy a high quality of living and reach their potential.
A one-size approach to service delivery does not work for individuals living in regional areas, so a higher degree of flexibility is needed. The NSW Nationals believe individuals and families living with disability should be involved in making decisions that best suit their circumstances.
With the introduction of NDIS and the Federal Government taking responsibility for disability services, the NSW Nationals are committed to ensuring individuals are supported and effective agency services are in place to find and address service gaps.
Seniors and aged care
Enabling our senior citizens to stay in their community, close to family and friends is important to the NSW Nationals. The ageing and elderly must be supported to stay in their communities – living independently where appropriate – for as long as possible.
Regional NSW has an older population demographic than the metropolitan area. Over the next decade, the number of people in regional NSW aged over 70 is expected to double. Age-appropriate and care facilities in regional communities allow ageing in place so individuals stay connected to family, friends, and the support networks they need.
The benefits of keeping older people in their communities include:
- General improvement in the wellbeing of seniors by enabling them to stay where they have lived their whole life and keep social connections.
- Seniors continuing to spend their money in the local community.
- Continued engagement of seniors in volunteering and unpaid community work.
- Employment opportunities in aged care, health care and associated services.
Palliative care upgrade
The NSW Nationals in Government are hiring more palliative care nurses, refurbishing palliative care facilities across the state, and investing in innovative digital health solutions to support families, especially in regional and remote areas.
The additional palliative care nurses will work in hospitals, palliative care facilities, and in communities and homes to ensure patients can access the care they need, in the setting they choose. We are recruiting many of these extra nurses in regional and rural areas, part of a record nursing and midwifery workforce boost in regional NSW.