“Rural Australians will again be disappointed that the Government has failed to put forward a credible plan or serious targets for addressing the critical shortage of general practitioners in rural areas,” said Mrs Hardman.
“While we welcome new investments in rural hospitals and health services, we are running out of doctors and health professionals to staff them.
“In Blayney we have a wonderful hospital but no doctors to staff the emergency department. This is the same in many other rural communities.
“Two weeks ago the Minister for Regional Australia Simon Crean said on the ABC’s Q&A program that ‘the most effective way that you’ll get people providing the services in the region in my view [is to] train them here because if you train them here they’re more likely to stay here and they’re the sorts of interventions that I think governments of all persuasions have got to respond more effectively to’.
“We wholeheartedly agree.
“The uniqueness of Charles Sturt University’s proposal is that it will integrate the teaching of doctors, with the education of dentists, oral health technicians, pharmacists, practice nurses, physiotherapists, rehabilitation professionals, nutritionists, and social workers – all courses already offered by the University to address the health workforce needs of rural and regional communities.
“While we are grateful to have a Minister for Regional Australia who understands the issues, the Government needs to convince rural Australians that it has a credible plan.
“This must include clear targets for increasing the number of Australian trained doctors in rural practice.
“More than 4 500 rural Australians die unnecessarily every year because they can’t get access to basic primary health services. That is three times the national road toll.
“If 4 500 people were dying unnecessarily every year in Sydney or Melbourne, we wouldn’t be talking about if rural Australia will get a new medical school, but how quickly.
“Poor access to health services in rural Australia saves the Government more than $2 billion every year, yet it was unable to find just $3 million in the 2011/12 Budget to get this important initiative started.
“At a meeting of the CSU Medical Program Development Community Consultative Committee in Orange last night, we resolved to commence a broad based community campaign to support CSU’s proposed rural medical and health school,” said Mrs Hardman.
||: Wes Ward
||: 02 6051 9906
Media Note: To arrange interviews, contact Ms Heather Mackinnon on (02) 6338 4866 or email.