Rural and remote patients will have access to a wider range of health services in their community following an announcement today by the Federal Government.
Parkes MP and Regional Heath Minister, Mark Coulton, said regional, rural, and remote communities throughout Australia will benefit from the $115 million extension to the Rural Health Outreach Fund (RHOF).
Across Western New South Wales, the program is helping improve the health of rural and remote communities, by supporting: palliative care services in Dubbo; paediatric clinics in Narrabri; and podiatry care to Far West communities in Broken Hill, Tibooburra, Wilcannia, White Cliffs, Menindee and Ivanhoe.
“This fund brings doctors and health professionals to patients, rather than the other way around, allowing many thousands of people to receive their health care closer to home,” Minister Coulton said.
“The Government’s decision to continue the outreach fund is good news for patients, families, businesses, and doctors in many areas which aren’t big enough to have a full complement of health services.”
Minister Coulton said the fund supports medical specialists, GPs, and allied and other health providers to visit rural, regional and remote areas, by subsidising the costs of travel, facility hire, and equipment leasing.
The program predominantly focusses on mental health, eye health, chronic disease management, and maternity and paediatric health.
More than 200,000 patients nationwide receive services each year under the RHOF.
Chief Executive Officer of the NSW fundholder, the NSW Rural Doctors Network (RDN), Richard Colbran, said RHOF services were delivered by health practitioners with strong commitments to improving health outcomes for rural patients.
“The services funded by the RHOF are reflective of community prioritised health needs,” Mr Colbran said.
“For many communities, the RHOF services are also an opportunity to diversify and improve the skillsets among local health professionals including GPs, practice nurses and Aboriginal Health Workers.
“The transfer of specialised skills through outreach services remains a particularly valuable aspect of this program because it equips the local health workforce with skills needed to manage ongoing patient care from local primary care, community health and hospital settings.”
Minister Coulton said the Federal Government is committed to improving health services for people living, working, and travelling in rural and remote Australia.
“The Government is acting to support regional, rural, and remote Australians during the COVID-19 pandemic,” Minister Coulton said.
“These include opening more than 80 new GP-led respiratory health clinics in rural and regional areas, a further $22.8 million for staffed mobile respiratory clinics and remote health service support and $30.0 million for aeromedical support to allow speedy evacuation of people suspected to have COVID-19.”