Second-rate service is bush norm
THREATS to medical services at Mullumbimby, Coraki and Bonalbo were symptomatic of Australia's two-tier health system where rural people copped a second-rate service, the NSW president of the Rural Doctors Association of Australia, Dr Dave Richmond said.
Dr Richmond said there had been a "significant neglect" of rural health and hospitals by the state and federal government, despite the six million country people comprising 31% of the population.
He said there was no recognition among health bureaucrats of the central role that hospitals played in country towns.
"Every hospital has its own mojo, its own history and that just gets lost in number crunching," he said.
The RDAA wants an urgent review of a "flawed" system that makes it difficult for small rural towns to recruit and retain doctors.
They also want an advanced rural training program to meet the needs of rural and remote communities.
Dr Richmond said there were signs of hope with new programs starting to bear fruit.
But it would be years before the current poor state of the rural health system was reversed and we probably had not seen the worst of it, especially as the State Government claimed it had no money.
But the Cowra-based GP urged North Coast residents not to give in to apathy and despair and to fight for the health services they wanted.
"You can lay down and die or you can get up and get cracking."
Rural medicine gets a poor health check
Australia's Health 2012 report compiled by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare released last month reveals the following about rural health services:
There is one doctor for every 255 people in metropolitan Australia compared to one doctor for every 485 people in outer regional areas
People who live in regional, rural and remote areas are more likely to report four or more health risk factors than people who live in major cities.
The five-year survival of people diagnosed with cancer decreases as their remoteness increases, with five-year survival being the highest for people living in major cities and the lowest for people living in remote and very remote areas.
People living in regional and remote areas continue to have higher rates of death from cardiovascular disease than other Australians.
Rates of potentially preventable hospitalisation increase with remoteness.