The National Rural Health Alliance (the Alliance) welcomes the call from New South Wales (NSW) Premier Dominic Perrottet for a new federal health accord to drive shared policy responses to unsustainable pressures on public hospitals and primary care systems.
The Alliance congratulates Premier Perrottet for his willingness to work with the federal government to review legislation and develop collaborative care models.
“It is important to develop grassroots solutions in collaboration with local communities, within the ‘collaborative federalism’ advocated by Premier Perrottet, particularly and crucially for regional, rural and remote locations where the market has failed,” said Susanne Tegen, Chief Executive of the Alliance.
“The Alliance welcomes the Premier’s acknowledgement of this priority, highlighting the importance of building the best health system around the patient, not around archaic government structures and systems that try to apply urban-based models to all areas.
“His comments align well with the Alliance’s vision for healthy and sustainable rural, regional and remote communities across Australia. We urge the development of a National Rural Health Strategy through collaboration by federal, state and local governments and are willing to provide our fullest support in this endeavour,” added Ms Tegen.
The Alliance provides a united voice for people living in rural communities, and the health professionals who serve them, by advocating for sustainable and affordable health services.
“People in rural, regional and remote Australia make up 30 per cent of the population and contribute two-thirds of Australia’s export earnings, including over $400 billion yearly in resource and agriculture exports. More than 45 per cent of the nation’s tourism income also comes from these areas. Therefore, rural Australians should expect and deserve access to quality health care, just as their urban counterparts do.
“We have envisaged a solution – the Primary care Rural Integrated Multidisciplinary Health Services (PRIM-HS) model – which has been developed through consultation with our 45 Members, who represent all segments of the health sector, as well as multiple primary care organisations across the nation desperate for service access that can address the needs of their communities,” said Ms Tegen.
The PRIM-HS model aims to address long-term poor health outcomes, rural health expenditure deficit, and maldistribution of the health and medical workforce, among other significant issues affecting rural Australia.
It offers a comprehensive and affordable range of primary healthcare services to meet local population health needs. PRIM-HS are intended as not-for-profit organisations funded by long-term government block funding, designed and established by local communities to meet their unique primary healthcare needs. They will work with and build on existing services and funded programs, addressing Medicare failings and legislation that does not allow for flexible and innovative responses.
“Communities do not care whether it is the federal, state or any other government entity that funds health services. They would just like equitable access to the universal healthcare system that they, as taxpayers, have helped to fund,” said Ms Tegen.
“The Alliance is willing to work with the NSW Premier, as well as the leaders of other states and the federal government, to address the severe medical and health workforce shortage and services that have been declining in rural, regional and remote Australia for the past 20 years. This situation has been exacerbated by the COVID pandemic and an overwhelming increase in environmental disasters.
“Urban wellbeing relies on the major contribution to the national economy of rural, regional and remote activities – including primary industries such as agriculture, mining, tourism and services. Without this, Australia would not have made it through the pandemic and the two recent global financial crises that brought many other countries to their knees.
“Ensuring rural taxpayers, who have given so much to the country, have access to the health care they need should be the priority of all levels of government. It is a social contract that we need to meet,” said Ms Tegen.