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NSW Farmers welcomes rural health push

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THE STATE’S PEAK agricultural body has welcomed a move to establish a dedicated NSW Department of Rural Health.

Independent state MP for Wagga Wagga Dr Joe McGirr launched a petition calling for the establishment of a Department of Rural Health in NSW on Tuesday. Sarah Thompson, a NSW Farmers member and retired occupational therapist, said country communities experienced a lower level of access to health services, and a dedicated Rural Health Department might address those problems.

“We know rural health is not something you can improve by simply throwing money at it, we need a commitment and focus to deliver the services that are needed,” Mrs Thompson said.

“As people increasingly look to the regions for affordable housing and better liveability, they will put more strain on already-stretched health infrastructure.

“A Rural Health Department could ensure healthcare facilities including hospitals, clinics, private practice, ambulances, mobile health provision and other health facilities are appropriately resourced.”

Mrs Thompson said it was pleasing to see a country doctor like the Member for Wagga Wagga call for a department that would be headed up by a former country nurse in Regional Health Minister Bronnie Taylor.

“Providing health services in rural and remote communities — be it as a GP or a nurse or an allied health professional — has a whole different set of challenges and we need people with that experience driving this forward,” she said.

“We recognise and appreciate the funding that has been invested in regional health, particularly to deliver important hospital infrastructure and equipment, but we need an equal focus on building the number of health professionals working within these facilities and provide services across the community.

“Ultimately, regional, rural and remote communities deserve excellent health care and that’s what we want to see achieved.”

IMAGE: Keantian, Dreamstime

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