May Day is upon us but many health and wellbeing services in rural and remote areas will not be dancing around the Maypole.* They are facing extreme funding uncertainty and are anxious about their capacity to continue servicing their clients and patients.
NRHA's CEO Gordon Gregory said today that the Government must end the uncertainty. "The NRHA has written to Minister Ley seeking a way forward so that, in years to come, this unnecessary anxiety and dysfunction can be avoided."
The Minister has announced the continuation of some mental health and Indigenous service funding, but details have not yet trickled down to all service providers.
"The staff of many services in rural and remote areas still do not have certainty about whether their job will exist after 30 June," Mr Gregory said.
"With health service managers unable to provide security, positions are unfilled, meaning a reduction in services. So it's patients and clients who pay the ultimate price."
The transition currently in train from Medicare Locals to Primary Health Networks is also a source of uncertainty. Staff have been lost and services curtailed, adding to the access problems already experienced by the sick and needy in rural and remote areas.
The majority of such funding decisions are made in the context of the Federal Budget but it causes major difficulties if decisions are not communicated to service providers affected until after the Budget is handed down each year.
The NRHA would like to work with government in the new financial year to review the process of how government schedules its funding and contracting renewal so that service organisations, their staff and, most importantly, their consumers can have certainty earlier.
*Dance round the maypole, dance round the maypole
Over the green field and down to the hay
Lift up your hearts and dance round the maypole
Run to your true love and dance all the day.
Gordon Gregory (Chief Executive)
02 6285 4660
Tim Kelly (Chairperson)
0438 011 383