Rural health a priority
Successful candidates must make rural health a priority in the next federal parliament. With Election 2013 drawing to a close, the Rural Doctors Association of Australia urges those rural candidates who are elected on polling day to make rural healthcare a top priority in the next federal parliament. It is essential that rural politicians champion the needs of rural Australia, and drive policies that will deliver a sustainable rural health sector and rural doctor workforce into the future. We need more doctors in the bush. Importantly, we need these doctors to have the training, advanced skills and supports to enable them to deliver the wide range of complex care that is always needed by rural communities. To achieve this, a commitment to longer-term planning and investment in the rural health sector is needed by the incoming government. It requires targeted incentives that encourage doctors to relocate and stay in the rural communities that need them most. It requires a system that better recognises and supports the work that rural doctors do. It requires a system that identifies and mentors medical students and junior doctors who are interested in rural practice, and shows them that a vibrant future is available to them there. And it requires strategies to better support the overseas trained doctors who make up a significant proportion of the rural medical workforce. While Labor and the Coalition have made some announcements during the election campaign to support the rural health sector - and these have been welcomed - neither has committed to any significant additional investments or a longer-term strategic plan to improve access to local healthcare for rural Australians. Investing in rural health should be as important as the other major infrastructure projects that have been the subject of election commitments. Like any sound investment, it will provide value for money and economic and social benefits for the nation as a whole. RDAA calls on every incoming rural politician to read our election platform at www.rdaa.com.au (go to Quick Links), consider how your rural electorate would benefit from the initiatives we have put forward, and be an active advocate for rural healthcare in the next federal parliament.