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Budget injects more health investment into the bush

Published: (Updated: ) in Australian News by .

The Australian Government is investing $800.3 million to improve the health of Australians in regional, rural, and remote areas, ensuring all Australians have access to quality health care services. Federal Regional Health Minister, Mark Coulton said the 2021-22 Federal Budget supports bold, new rural workforce and training measures designed to further deliver the Government’s ten-year … Continue reading “Budget injects more health investment into the bush”

The Australian Government is investing $800.3 million to improve the health of Australians in regional, rural, and remote areas, ensuring all Australians have access to quality health care services.

Federal Regional Health Minister, Mark Coulton said the 2021-22 Federal Budget supports bold, new rural workforce and training measures designed to further deliver the Government’s ten-year Stronger Rural Health Strategy.

“Regional Australia is driving Australia’s economic recovery from COVID-19, and through our investment in the health portfolio in the 2021-22 Budget we continue to provide support to enable the regions and our local communities to prosper and grow,” Minister Coulton said.

“This is a health budget especially for the almost 8 million Australians who live and work in the regions. All Australians, regardless where they live, should have access to high quality health care.”

The Morrison McCormack Government continues – in this Budget – to invest in the rural training pipeline and improve the financial viability of rural practise, helping grow the nation’s highly skilled and vital rural health workforce.

A measure with immediate impact on the bottom-line for our doctors, is the introduction from 1 January 2022, at a cost of more than $65 million in the first four years, of a new progressive bulk billing schedule to better acknowledge remoteness under the MBS.

“Our Government understands doctors face greater health complexities and challenges in rural and remote areas, which is why more than 12,000 GPs will be eligible for a higher bulk billing incentive,” Minister Coulton said.

“Enhancing the financial viability of GP practices in rural towns and remote areas is just one of the things governments need to do to ensure we are attracting doctors to where they are most needed.

More junior doctors will receive invaluable rural training experiences through the new $12.4 million John Flynn Prevocational Doctor Training Program.

“This is a much needed injection for rural training, which will deliver almost double the current number of rural primary care rotations, ensuring young doctors have more exposure to the opportunities available in rural practice,” Minister Coulton said

“We continue to invest in training early career allied health professionals through a $9.6 million expansion of the successful Allied Health Rural Generalist Pathway, which more than doubles the number of training positions for allied health disciplines.

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“Allied health plays an important role in primary care. It is why we are supporting allied health professionals to participate in patient management conferencing, to provide more team-based primary health care to people in the bush.”

The Government is developing a streamlined program to support the National Rural Generalist Pathway in recognition of the greater demands and broader range of advance skills doctors often require in regional areas, especially where there is less support from other doctors and hospital services.

Minister Coulton said the Coalition Government understands rural and remote communities require bespoke, innovative workforce and training measures if we are to create more sustainable health services, better harness existing resources, and attract more health professionals to rural areas.

“Another $2.2 million will increase the number of collaborative primary care models underway in rural Australia, similar to those already in progress in southern and western NSW,” he said.

“We are also supporting a similar approach for specialist training, by investing $29.5 million to trial new regional training models with the aim of keeping more specialists training in rural settings, rather than them needing to relocate to training hospitals in metropolitan areas.

To further advance primary care in rural Australia, the Primary Health Network after hours program is being extended, the Hearing Services Online portal is being modernised and rural and remote diagnostic imaging providers are being assisted to upgrade and replace older equipment.

Minister Coulton welcomed significant investments in the 2021–22 Budget across the health portfolio to undertake once-in-a-generation changes to aged care, and strong reforms to the mental health sector.

“Our five pillar, five-year plan for aged care will deliver a record $17.7 billion package to reform the aged care sector, based on the principles of respect, care and dignity for our ageing,” he said.

“I want to see regional people be able to receive the care they need in the communities where they have lived, worked and raised their families.

“Rural, regional and remote communities will see improvements to residential aged care funding models, an expansion of home care packages, direct funding for infrastructure upgrades and greater support for the workforce, especially for registered nurses and GPs.

“Our $2.3 billion investment in mental health and suicide prevention – the largest investment in Australia’s history – includes direct benefits for country communities.”

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A new national network of 57 additional mental health treatment centres and satellites, as well as an expansion of the Headspace program, will bolster services for the young and old in the bush.

Minister Coulton said the Government understands that one of the barriers regional Australians face in accessing mental health services is workforce shortages.

“The Budget delivers $202 million for the mental health workforce, including $58.8 million aimed at boosting the number of psychiatrists, mental health nurses, psychologists and allied health practitioners in mental health services. More than $15 million is also available to support GPs to train and upskill to provide mental health care in the regions,” he said.

The Government is continuing the critical services regional Australians have relied on during COVID-19 with $3 billion to extend our COVID-19 health response, including $1.9 billion for the COVID-19 vaccination rollout and $204.6 million to extend telehealth measures, which have kept rural and regional communities safe and helped tackle the tyranny of distance.

“The Nationals understand the complex challenges faced by the rural health sector, such as recruiting GPs, nurses and allied health professionals to the bush, and I am 100 per cent committed to developing a range of programs and initiatives to combat this,” he said.

The new investment in the 2021-22 Budget is in addition to the $6.1 billion the Government is estimated to provide towards small rural and regional hospitals through the 2020-25 National Health Reform Agreement, and $7.5 billion for existing health workforce programs over the forward estimates.

REGIONAL HEALTH 2021-22 BUDGET SNAPSHOT

The Government’s 2021-22 rural, regional and remote investments in the 2021-22 Budget include, but is not limited to the following:

COVID Response

Aged care

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Mental Health and Suicide Prevention

Rural Health Workforce

Primary Health Care

Source: 16 News http://www.16news.com.au/index.php/2021/05/13/budget-injects-more-health-investment-into-the-bush/

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Finance Advice 2021