As election day has almost arrived, it is great to see policies being announced for regional and rural communities. I am proud to back Minister for regional health, David Gillespie, in the fight to secure more healthcare professionals in the regions.
Doctor shortages continue to wreak havoc on regional communities as it takes weeks just to book in to see your local general practitioner. Accessing basic healthcare should not be limited when the location of your home is not in a major city.
Minister Gillespie, himself a doctor from the regions, understands the necessity of boosting regional healthcare workers. He knows positive rural training experiences lead to more doctors and trainees staying in rural areas.
Our plan is to look at long term solutions to incentivise the workforce to go regional and to give them better employment models so regional communities do not have to wait weeks to have a face-to-face appointment with a healthcare professional.
Since launching the stronger Rural Health Strategy in the 2018-19 budget, we have seen a strong increase of general practitioners, nurses and allied health professionals in rural and regional Australia.
I wish there was a silver bullet to fix regional health overnight, but the truth is, we need to look at short and long term solutions. That includes widening recruitment opportunities through the Distribution Priority Area (DPA) assessments as well as our other workforce initiatives.
The Nationals have put regional health on the map. We appointed a Regional Health Minister, we established the Murray-Darling Basin Medical School, we set up Rural Generalist pathways for both doctors and allied health professionals. All ways to move the dial and keep the momentum.
Now is not the time to change Government. We need to make sure we continue to work with the rural doctors and others to ensure regional Australia attracts more healthcare professionals. To do that, we need to make sure regional health continues to have Ministerial representation.