Web­ster sub­mits pol­icy on health

The Weekly Advertiser Horsham - - News - BY DEAN LAW­SON

Con­cerns about re­gional health­care across Aus­tralia have led to Mem­ber for Mallee Anne Web­ster de­vel­op­ing a re­gional-health­care re­form pol­icy.

Dr Web­ster has sub­mit­ted the pol­icy to Fed­eral Health Min­is­ter Greg Hunt and is set to meet with him to dis­cuss pro­pos­als.

She has also met and sent the re­form doc­u­ment to Re­gional Ser­vices, De­cen­tral­i­sa­tion and Lo­cal Govern­ment Min­is­ter Mark Coul­ton.

Dr Web­ster, who was in Horsham on elec­toral du­ties with Act­ing Prime Min­is­ter Michael Mccor­mack last week, said she was com­mit­ted to see­ing change that opened the door for re­gional peo­ple to ac­cess more ser­vices in a timely man­ner.

“This is not just a Mallee is­sue – it’s a na­tional is­sue and an is­sue we are work­ing on ad­dress­ing,” she said.

Dr Web­ster also ex­pressed her con­cern about cir­cum­stances sur­round­ing em­bat­tled pri­vate bulk-billing ser­vice Tris­tar Med­i­cal Group.

“Re­gional health­care is crit­i­cal for our re­gion,” she said.

“What we know is that Tris­tar has been pro­vid­ing an es­sen­tial ser­vice in the re­gions, in par­tic­u­lar the Mallee elec­torate, and I’m keen to hear their point of view on what’s hap­pen­ing.”

Dr Web­ster is sched­uled to meet with rep­re­sen­ta­tives from Tris­tar, which claims a fed­eral shift in pol­icy and bu­reau­cracy in­volv­ing over­seas doc­tors has placed the group un­der se­vere fi­nan­cial pres­sure and is a threat to bulk-bill med­i­cal ser­vices in the re­gions.

“I’m very con­cerned about the short­age of GPS in re­gional set­tings and I’ve spent con­sid­er­able time dis­cussing is­sues with var­i­ous stake­hold­ers in de­vel­op­ing the re­form pol­icy,” she said.

Dr Web­ster said other crit­i­cal re­gional is­sues that needed ad­dress­ing cen­tred on men­tal health and age.

“I’ll be in­ter­ested to see re­sults from the Royal Com­mis­sion into aged care and happy the Fed­eral Govern­ment has com­mit­ted money to men­tal-health re­form that starts at pri­mary-school level in a root-and-branch ap­proach,” she said.

Dr Web­ster added she re­mained keenly aware of calls for a men­tal-health cri­sis cen­tre in Horsham.

“I’m keen to con­tinue en­gag­ing stake­hold­ers to de­ter­mine what is needed in Horsham and the Wim­mera and to scope out what’s needed right across the elec­torate,” she said.

“We need to know what ser­vices are out there and how do, or can, they work to­gether.

“How do ser­vices work to­gether so they are ef­fec­tive and vi­able over the long term and how do we make fi­nite re­sources ef­fec­tive and ef­fi­cient? “That’s all part of health-care re­form.” • Tris­tar ham­strung, page 13

“How do ser­vices work to­gether so they are ef­fec­tive and vi­able over the long term and how do we make fi­nite re­sources ef­fec­tive and ef­fi­cient?” – Anne Web­ster

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