There is currently a significant opportunity for rural, regional and remote people of NSW to provide input on the topic of regional health services.
A health inquiry, which is being conducted by the NSW Upper House Health Committee, will inquire into and report on health outcomes and access to health and hospital services in rural, regional and remote NSW.
We know many people are tired of reviews and inquiries, which do not seem to lead to any real change, at least not in a reasonable timeframe.
However, we do believe this is an important and rare opportunity to examine the general provision, availability and quality of care in regions, and we will be providing a substantial input and following through with the process including holding the NSW government to account for the implementation of any recommendations.
The CWA of NSW has focused on improving health services and outcomes for regional people since its inception.
The association advocates for policies to attract and retain more medical staff including doctors, nurses and allied health professionals to the regions.
The CWA of NSW has also been a long-term advocate for better mental health, psychology and alcohol and other drug treatment and services in regional areas.
Maternity services and early childhood support has also been a historical and current focus of our work.
This year the way we conducted our policy motion vote was different, in that for the first time in the association's history we held our annual general meeting voting process via post.
One thing didn't change; health services in regional NSW was a strong focus, accounting for a total of 12 of the 25 motions that were successfully carried.
This year's topics ranged from public audiologists in regional areas, to the cost of mammograms and X-rays for country people, to postnatal and antenatal continuity of care.
We'll be sure to include all of our members' concerns relating to health services in the bush, and we're also conducting a comprehensive survey of our members who are located across the state to provide some insights and data along with our direct experience with the health system.
We know the issues are many and varied, and there are significant challenges ahead in terms of improving availability and quality of care in non-metropolitan areas.
However we welcome this inquiry as a start, and we encourage all regional people to contribute to the inquiry as well.
- Stephanie Stanhope is NSW CWA president.
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