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The NSW Government has been handed 44 recommendations to address the challenges and shortcomings in the state’s rural, regional, and remote health system.

Over the past 21 months, 15 hearings with 220 witnesses were held, with more than 700 submissions made to the committee.

“Many of the issues raised in this report are not new,” chair of the committee Greg Donnelly said.

Health workers cross the road near Concord Repatriation General Hospital in Concord, NSW.
The NSW Government has been handed 44 recommendations to fix rural and regional healthcare. (Kate Geraghty)

“While recognising that the provision of health services to an area as large as rural, regional and remote New South Wales is challenging and complex, throughout this inquiry the committee heard repeatedly about individuals and families let down by the health system.

“The committee heard stories of emergency departments with no doctors; of patients being looked after by cooks and cleaners; of excessive wait times for treatment; and of misdiagnoses and medical errors.

“This evidence is by no means a reflection on the NSW Health staff working tirelessly in challenging circumstances; rather it is an indictment of the health system that has allowed this situation to develop.

“However, the current situation facing the residents of rural, regional and remote New South Wales can and should not be seen as acceptable.”

NSW workers across the ambulance, allied health, admin, catering, wards, cleaning and security areas will ask for a pay rise of more than 2.5 per cent.
The report heard harrowing accounts of understaffed emergency departments and long waits for ambulances. (Flavio Brancaleone)

Some key recommendations are a review by NSW Health into the funding models for all regional and rural local health districts in order to identify any gaps, and the development of a ten-year strategy.

Others include looking at communication and community engagement, pay and employment conditions for nurses and midwives and the use of virtual care known as telehealth.

The NSW Government have six months to respond to the committee’s recommendations.

NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet
NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet was asked about the report. (Rhett Wymann)

Premier Dominic Perrottet was asked about the findings today, but said he hadn’t read the report yet.

“I’ve obviously followed the inquiry and I don’t think I’ll be surprised by what I read, these issues were well ventilated during the course of the inquiry,” he said.

“My understanding is a lot of work in terms of implementation of those issues that came up during the inquiry have already been addressed or are in the process of being addressed.

“There is no doubt it is an important inquiry and governments can always look to learn and invest more in those areas which we need to.

“I know, particularly in regional NSW, it is a challenge getting nurses and GPs out to regional NSW and regional Australia this is a difficulty we have to address.”

Source: 9News

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