Helen Haines champions national rural health plan

For immediate release: May 7, 2019

Independent candidate for Indi Helen Haines says a national rural health plan and more funding for rural health research will help close significant health care gaps faced by country people.

“I’ve spent my life as a nurse, midwife and rural health researcher working to improve health services in our region,” Dr Haines said outside Northeast Health Wangaratta.

“It’s still my priority.

“We Australians who call country communities home – and we make up 28 per cent of national population – experience 1.3 times the total burden of disease. Yet successive governments don’t give us priority.

“We need a clear focus on rural health.

“We need a national rural health plan that responds to the proposals put by the National Rural Health Alliance to bring health services and opportunities for people in country communities to a level considered standard in our major cities.

“We need rural health specialists and allied health professionals and support staff – a workforce which can train locally and have use of the technology, infrastructure and equipment to deliver the highest quality care.

“The reality in 2019 is that people in country communities still have fewer opportunities to access the health care they should expect. Your postcode should not determine your health outcomes.

“Multidisciplinary teams, modern hospitals, investment in rural health research, primary care and health promotion are essential to improve and overcome the poorer health outcomes we see in rural areas.”

Dr Haines said she supported the call by National Rural Health Alliance for a $300 million investment to expand regional Australia’s allied health workforce.

“I also support a dedicated rural focus for the Medical Research Future Fund so that more effort is directed towards overcoming the unique health challenges faced by those of us living and working in rural and regional Australia.

“We need a comprehensive investment in telehealth, including adequate rebates for those professionals providing telehealth consultation services and effective funding for the communications infrastructure to deliver them.”

Dr Haines said provision of effective mental health services in rural communities was also a key priority.

“Suicide in rural areas occurs at twice the rate of that in urban areas, with males three times more likely than females to die by suicide,” she said.

“This is directly attributable to a lack of mental health services in rural Australia-.

“Funding for mental health severely lags behind funding for physical health.

“The availability of mental health professionals in proximity to the people who need them is one of our clearest challenges. I will ensure that the mental health of the people of Indi is not forgotten.”

Dr Haines said she would also work to address the issue of out-of-pocket costs for patients attending Indi’s urgent care centres and to provide funding certainty for rural health services funded through the federal Multi-Purpose Services Program.

ENDS

For comment:
Helen Haines M 0436 122 029

For media information:
Jamie Kronborg  0409 912 967