Rural health funds promised in election pledge

Rural health funds promised in election pledge

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THE COALITION has promised $100 million to establish a trial allowing patients to have increased access to advanced treatment options, regardless of where they live.

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THE COALITION has promised $100 million to establish a trial allowing patients to have increased access to advanced treatment options, regardless of where they live.

The Rural and Regional Clinical Trials Infrastructure Program will set up state of the art equipment and infrastructure to allow regional and rural patients enhanced treatment.

Regional Services Minister Bridget McKenzie said people living in rural and regional Australia deserved the same access to high-quality healthcare services as those living in capital cities.

"For too long, those Australians living in the regions have been forced to put up with less than adequate access to high quality services but this has changed under the Liberal and Nationals government," she said.

"Our commitment to improving health services in the regions is represented by our ground-breaking investment of $550 million for the Stronger Rural Health Strategy in the 2018-19 Budget.

"This strategy will deliver 3000 additional doctors and more than 3000 additional nurses and allied health professionals in rural general practice over the next decade.

"We know that there are enough doctors being trained in Australia, the challenge is to get them to work where they are needed."

Alongside the infrastructure trial, the Coalition announced its Rural Health Strategy, which includes $84.1m for the Royal Flying Doctor Service for mental health services, dental care and emergency aeromedical services to rural and remote communities, $94.5m for a Murray Darling Medical Schools Network to increase the number of medical students training in rural areas and $62.2m across five years from 2018-19 to start implementing a National Rural Generalist Pathway.

"Research shows that doctors and other medical specialists who begin their training in the regions are more likely to stay and practice in the regions and if they move away to pursue a career, they are more likely to return," Ms McKenzie said.

Ms McKenzie said the government had also invested $12m for a Heart of Australia mobile cardiology and health services in rural Qld, alongside regional cancer centres and investment in hospitals, including Swan Hill and Shepparton in Vic, Whyalla, and Townsville, Qld.

"As Regional Services Minister, I am extremely proud that our government has taken on this challenge to improve regional and rural health services across Australia," Ms McKenzie said.

"Our regions make such an important economic contribution to our nation and it's only fair that we use these proceeds to invest back into local communities to provide them the high-quality health care that other Australians can access.

The investment of $100m across five years for clinical trial infrastructure from 2020-21 is funded from the Medical Research Future Fund National Critical Infrastructure initiative.

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