THE Coalition’s newly-announced health policy will help get more – and better-trained – medical experts into rural and regional areas, Member for Leichhardt Warren Entsch said today.
“We need more frontline services in Leichhardt, from highly skilled doctors, to nurses and allied health professionals,” said Mr Entsch. “This is a significant issue, and one that will certainly be helped by our plan to provide financial assistance to students from rural and remote areas to further their studies.”
Mr Entsch said it was good to see a focus on greater community involvement in the management and responsibility of local hospitals, and he welcomed the plan to bring forward the proposed roll-out of the National Bowel Cancer Screening Programme.
“I’m also very pleased that the Coalition has committed to review the Medicare Locals structure to make sure that funding is actually being spent on supporting frontline services,” he said.
“Unfortunately, I’ve received a lot of feedback from senior figures in local health that FNQ Medicare Local hasn’t been doing what it was set up to do – which is planning and funding extra health services and supporting local providers.
“Instead, I have evidence that they are competing with local providers, taking their funding and trying to provide the services themselves, when clearly they don’t have the capacity.
“I welcome a full review of their role.”
Unlike Labor, which has run up enormous debt over the past six years and will have no alternative but to cut services if re-elected, the Coalition has a proven record on economic management and can deliver certainty of future investment.
“We’re committed to rebuilding general practice and assisting them to expand their practices and provide space for teaching medical students,” Mr Entsch said. “The Coalition will commit $52.5 million to provide at least 175 grants of up to $300,000 targeted to rural and regional areas.”
The Coalition will also commit $13.4 million to provide 500 additional scholarships to a maximum of $30,000 per scholarship for nurses and allied health professionals in areas of need to undertake further study.
Another $40 million over four years will support up to 100 additional intern places in private hospitals, with priority given to positions and rotations outside major metro areas to bolster the medical workforce in rural and regional areas.
Importantly, a Federal Coalition government would work to cut administration and bureaucracy in favour of more frontline services, and work with States and Territories to support more local control of hospital services.
“I’ve always believed that hospitals can operate better at a community level than under the control of bureaucrats in Canberra,” said Mr Entsch.
The Coalition has a strong record on health. As health Minister, Tony Abbott increased funding for public hospitals from $7.49 billion in 2003 to over $9.5 billion in 2007. Just last year, the Federal Labor government cut $1.6 billion from State public hospitals.
MEDIA CONTACT: Heather Beck (Mr Entsch’s office) 0427 585 668.