by Molong Branch member, Megan Peffer
Concerns about health care services in regional and rural areas of NSW were the catalyst for the formation of the CWA of NSW all those years ago. It’s an issue we’ve been lobbying on ever since. This Awareness Week we want to highlight the inequalities that still exist and push for the policy and funding changes that will lead to real improvements in the lives of country families.
The Country Women’s Association of NSW’s Molong branch has launched its annual Awareness Week campaign (1 – 8 September 2018), this year raising awareness of a widening gap between health care services in country communities and those in metropolitan centres.
The ongoing erosion of health care services in rural and regional areas is one of the greatest concerns for these communities, and country people are sick of being treated like second-class citizens.
Seven million Australians live outside our major cities, representing a significant proportion of the nation’s population, which should count for something when governments are splitting up the health care dollars. But, for too long, the needs of rural and regional communities have been ignored and the inequity has grown to the point many of these towns, and even our regional cities, are facing a health care crisis.
This year’s Awareness Week campaign calls for improvement in a number of key areas: shortage of GPs in rural and regional areas; difficulty recruiting specialists, specialist nurses and allied health care professionals; poor access to dental care; shortage of drug and alcohol support and rehabilitation services; shortage of mental health services; lack of support (psychological) for those with chronic or terminal illness in rural areas; the downgrading of local hospitals – including the fact that blood stocks are no longer on hand at many smaller NSW hospitals.
Reduced access to services – and the often exorbitant costs associated with having to travel away for specialised care results in poorer health outcomes for country Australians.
In a wealthy country like Australia, this is simply not good enough.
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