A plan for better health care for regional, rural, and remote Australia

26 May 2016

The AMA is calling for a fairer deal for rural Australians when it comes to health care. People living in regional, rural and remote Australia often struggle to access health services that urban Australians would see as a basic right. These inequalities mean that they have lower life expectancy, worse outcomes on leading indicators of health, and poorer access to care compared to people in major cities.

Rural communities are served by highly skilled doctors who often work long hours and who are totally dedicated to the needs of their community. The work is challenging and can be very rewarding. Now is the time for governments to develop comprehensive plans to better support the provision of health care in regional, rural, and remote Australia, and to commit to significant funding increases to bridge the gap between city and country.

Governments must focus on measures that will make a long-term difference, and commit to policies that:

  • rebuild health infrastructure – particularly public hospitals;
  • support the recruitment and retention of the medical workforce;
  • provide more opportunities to train medical students and doctors in rural areas; and
  • support rural medical practices to ensure they are able to meet the complex health needs of people in rural and remote communities.

It is essential that government policy and resources are tailored and targeted to cater to the unique nature of rural health care and the diverse needs of rural and remote communities to ensure they receive timely, comprehensive, and quality health care.