The NSW Government has finalised its response to the Rural Health Inquiry, reaffirming its commitment to improve health outcomes for all people living in rural, regional and remote NSW.
Nationals Minister for Regional Health Bronnie Taylor said the government has drawn a line in the sand, recognising the findings of the Inquiry and taking meaningful action to provide safe and high quality health care services in the bush.
“It is my absolute priority to ensure that, no matter where you live in our state, you have access to the health services that you need and deserve,” Mrs Taylor said.
“We know that almost all patients who pass through our rural and regional hospitals and health services have a positive outcome. A Bureau of Health Information survey of more than 6,000 patients who received emergency care from small, rural public hospitals found that 94 per cent rated their care as ‘good’ or ‘very good’.
“However, it was important to hear directly from those on the ground, including patients, their families, health staff and communities, about where we need to address issues in our health system and also build on the NSW Government’s ongoing commitment to best practice healthcare and reform. That is what this Inquiry has achieved.”
The government supports or supports in principle 41 of the 44 recommendations. Work is already underway to address many of these supported recommendations. Three recommendations are noted.
Since the Inquiry commenced, the NSW Government has committed significant funding to address the issues raised including:
• A $4.5 billion commitment to employ a record 10,148 full-time equivalent staff to be recruited to hospitals and health services across NSW over four years, with around 40% of this workforce being for regional areas
• An investment of $883 million over the next four years to attract and retain staff in rural and regional NSW by transforming the way health clinicians are incentivised to work in the bush.
• Doubled subsidies across the Isolated Patients Travel and Accommodation Assistance Scheme (IPTAAS) with a $149.5 million investment.
• An investment of $743 million funding boost over the next five years to enhance end-of-life care in NSW.
The NSW Government’s response to the Inquiry coincides with the unveiling of our new Regional Health Ministerial Advisory Panel.
Chaired by Richard Colbran, CEO of the NSW Rural Doctors Network, the panel will advise the Minister for Regional Health, the Secretary of NSW Health and the Coordinator-General of the Regional Health Division on opportunities and solutions to improve healthcare, hospital and support services in regional NSW.
Mrs Taylor said she will work closely with the panel to create a new regional health plan, which will be released later this year.
“Mr Colbran is a respected leader who, along with his fellow panel members, will play an integral role in the NSW Government’s work to improve health outcomes for people across rural and regional NSW,” Mrs Taylor said.
“A key focus of the panel will be to identify and outline a broader vision and action plan for strengthening the rural and regional health system in NSW.”
Joining Mr Colbran on the panel are:
• Ms Anna Barwick
• Ms Karen Booth
• Mrs Jo Caldwell
• Ms Leone Crayden
• Cr Rick Firman OAM
• Mrs Louise Fox
• Ms Laura Hand-Ross
• Dr Warren Kealy-Bateman
• Cr Ken Keith
• Professor Jennifer May
• Mrs Georgina Rosee
• Dr Ayman Shenouda
• Ms Meg Austin
• Dr Anna Windsor