Health Minister Jillian Skinner today launched the NSW Rural Health Plan: Towards 2021, a comprehensive framework which guides rural, regional and remote health services to ensure they continue to meet the needs of communities well into the future.

Mrs Skinner launched the NSW Rural Health Plan at the University Centre for Rural Health in Lismore and said it demonstrates the NSW Government’s commitment to provide seamless, quality health care closer to home for country communities.

“The health and wellbeing of rural communities is an absolute priority for the NSW Liberals & Nationals Government,” Mrs Skinner said

“The Rural Health Plan will strengthen the capacity of NSW rural health services to provide connected and seamless care, as close to home as possible for people in rural communities.

“Over the past three years, major improvements have been made in rural health. We are rebuilding rural hospitals, recruiting record numbers of new nurses and doctors and reforming the way the health system works to ensure decisions are patient-focused and made by local experts.

“I’m pleased to report country patients can now access 85 per cent of their health care within their Local Health District. There has been major investment in rural cancer services so now patients in the country can be cared for closer to home.

“We’ve also invested in pain management services and community-based palliative care for rural patients.

“However, more can be done to ensure patients in the country are afforded first-class care in first-class facilities, which is why the Rural Health Plan is so important.”

Mrs Skinner said she established a Ministerial Advisory Committee for Rural Health last year to formulate the state’s first Rural Health Plan in more than a decade.

“The plan demonstrates the need to focus on integration, information and infrastructure to enhance the health services in rural communities. It formalises a principle in health I am incredibly passionate about - ensuring patients have access to the right care, in the right place, at the right time.

“I thank all those who worked on the plan and those stakeholders who sent submissions in to guide the delivery of rural health services into the future.”

Mrs Skinner said rural, regional and remote hospitals and health facilities are much-loved and at the very heart of their communities.

“I’m proud of the work being undertaken in rural and regional hospitals across this state. I spend much of my time visiting these facilities and know firsthand how cherished they are.”

Deputy Premier Troy Grant said the NSW Rural Health Plan is a valuable tool to guide health services right across country NSW.

“The Rural Health Plan shows there is no such thing as a one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to rural health and the NSW Government is responding by providing care tailored to country communities,” Mr Grant said.

“The work that has gone into this plan highlights the NSW Liberals & Nationals Government’s commitment to delivering quality, consistent health care to rural, regional and remote parts of NSW.”

Member for Lismore Thomas George said today marks an important day for health in Lismore.

“I thank the Minister for choosing to launch the NSW Rural Health Plan in Lismore – a region that is also home to Dr Austin Curtin, the co-chair of the Ministerial Advisory Committee for Rural Health. Today’s launch demonstrates communities like ours are at the heart of planning health services for the future.

“Lismore has proud history of quality medical care and the $80.25 million redevelopment of Lismore Hospital, the refurbishment of Murwillumbah Hospital’s emergency department and the new Bonalbo Multi-Purpose Service are bolstering health services for the benefit of patients and retention of staff.”

Parliamentary Secretary for Regional Health and Ministerial Advisory Committee for Rural Health co-chair Melinda Pavey welcomed the launch of the plan.

“The development of the Rural Health Plan has been a rewarding project, which at its completion has provided a framework to support our rural facilities, their hard-working staff and the broader system to enhance patient care and, importantly, improve their health outcomes.”

To view the NSW Rural Health Plan: Towards 2021, please visit: http://www.health.nsw.gov.au/rural/rhp/Pages/default.aspx

Contact Details:

Office: 55 Carrington Street  LISMORE
Postal: PO Box 52  LISMORE  NSW  2480
Telephone: 1800 336 166 or 02 6621 3624
Facsimile: 02 6622 1403  Email: lismore@parliament.nsw.gov.au

Authorised by Thomas George MP. Funded using Parliamentary entitlements.