The Guardian highlights Alliance’s rural health concerns

Tuesday, 18 June 2024

An article in The Guardian Australia, written by Gabrielle Chan, calls out on ‘urban narcissism’ displayed by some urban medical practitioners when it comes to rural healthcare delivery.

Referring to the findings of the Alliance's report on the annual rural healthcare underspend of $ 6.55 billion or close to $850 a person, Chan highlights that equal spending per capita does not necessarily equate to the same level of services between cities and the regions, because it costs more to deliver healthcare the further you are from a capital city. “That makes the real gap even larger,” says Chan.

Chan adds that the Alliance report showed patients don’t have access to, or are putting off, seeing health workers.

“In some places, that means medicating symptoms more because of lack of access to doctors. If you can’t see a physiotherapist or pain specialist about a chronic back injury, you take a pill. If you have blurry vision and can’t see a specialist, you continue to drive and use the $10 chemist glasses to read,” writes Chan.

Chan also refers to the Rural Flying Doctor Service Best for the Bush 2023 report and that as recently as 2021, a woman living in a remote area was expected to die 16 years earlier than a woman in a city. Men in remote areas are expected to die 13 years earlier than their city counterparts.

The article also points out that rural people present with worse conditions and that drives increased hospital spending. "Indeed, we are fronting up to emergency departments more, at a rate of 423 per 1,000 people compared with 309 in urban centres.

“Some don’t get help unless a limb is dangling,” writes Chan and adds that many rural people don’t expect a teaching hospital in a town of 2,000. “We just want a doctor.”

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