As part of the IndyNR.com NSW Election coverage, we are asking candidates questions. We asked:
What ways can we attract doctors to our region? How can we keep them here?
The four candidates for the seat of Clarence gave their answers.
Debrah Novak, Independent
Attracting and keeping doctors in rural and regional Australia is a challenge for most towns. There are numerous research papers that highlight the various issues that keep doctors from choosing our rural locations.
This research says “the major barriers to rural recruitment are family-unit considerations for partners and children, concerns over isolation and a poor perception of rural practice”.
Attracting doctors to practise rurally is only half the challenge however, and strategies to retain rural doctors need a greater focus on personal and professional support networks and community integration.
Greg Clancy, Greens
Your health shouldn’t depend on your postcode but city people live 2.2 years longer on average than rural people.
We’ll open 12 public primary care services where you can see a GP and allied health professionals for free, one in every regional Local Health District and retain skilled health workers with a 15% pay rise for nurses, midwives and paramedics. These initiatives will be funded with the $200 million saved every year by replacing expensive private locum agencies with a state-wide service to coordinate the deployment of health workers on temporary contracts. We’ll expand the Isolated Patients Travel and Accommodation Assistance Scheme to cover the full cost of travel and tackle the GP shortage by making it easier for junior doctors to choose a career in general practice.
We’ll also establish a rural and remote health commissioner.
Leon Ankersmit, Labor
NSW is facing a health crisis which is being felt acutely by our regions as was highlighted in the regional health inquiry which the Nationals objected to.
Labor have committed to implementing a dedicated department secretary with the responsibility of delivering improvements to healthcare for rural and regional communities.
Staffing wise, we will introduce minimal and enforceable safe staffing levels to public hospitals starting with emergency departments and hire an additional 500 regional paramedics within the first term of a Labor Government.
Labor will also abolish the NSW Government’s wages cap, which has been a handbrake on our essential workers wages under this government. We will implement productivity-based bargaining to ensure our healthcare workers are paid fairly and the people of NSW get the best value services.
Richie Williamson, Nationals
This is a very complicated issue, as the doctor issue is largely a Federal Government matter. If I’m elected on March 25, I will work closely with our local MP Kevin Hogan to ensure we are doing all we can to attract more doctors to our region. More broadly on health care workers, the NSW Nationals secured $883 million over four years to implement a major regional health workforce incentives scheme in the largest shakeup of its kind ever undertaken in the state. It aims to attract and retain staff in rural and regional NSW by transforming the way health clinicians are incentivised in the bush. The scheme will be delivered alongside new training and recruitment pathways to build a pipeline of regionally based workers and futureproof healthcare in the bush.
Find out more about each candidate here.