05 May 2022

The NSW Government has today reaffirmed its commitment to strengthening healthcare in rural and regional NSW, following the publication of the findings and recommendations of the NSW Parliamentary Inquiry.

Minister for Regional Health Bronnie Taylor said the Inquiry shone a light where it needed to, hearing directly from rural and regional communities, patients, their families and healthcare workers.

“To those who shared their deeply personal experiences, thank you. The NSW Government has listened and accepts that there is a need to do more to improve patient care in regional and rural locations,” Mrs Taylor said.

“Implementing bold new measures to attract key health workers to work in our regional health facilities and retaining that workforce will be a key focus of mine - everything is on the table when it comes to improving health outcomes in rural and regional NSW.”

The NSW Government’s ongoing commitment to rural and regional health has been demonstrated by record investment, with $900-million committed to capital works in the 2021-22 financial year.

This was followed by a $500-million funding boost in November last year, to enhance services and infrastructure for rural communities and attract workers to the regions.

“We will also look at improving patient access to care, and work with the Federal Government to expand and integrate primary care models, including the GP workforce,” Mrs Taylor said.

“Since stepping into the role as Minister for Regional Health, I have made it a priority to understand and address a number of issues that we know are affecting our health system in the regions, and the findings from the Inquiry will feed into this work.”

The four priority areas for the Minister for Regional Health are:

  • strengthening the rural and regional health workforce
  • improving access to health services through increased transport and accommodation support
  • working with the Federal Government to expand and integrate primary care models, including the GP workforce
  • building on community engagement and the understanding of available services in the regions.

The recently established Regional Health Division of NSW Health will play a key role in the NSW Government’s ongoing work to improve and deliver excellent patient experiences and outcomes for the people of rural and regional NSW. In addition, the Regional Health Advisory Panel will ensure the development of healthcare services in rural and regional NSW have the needs of local communities at its heart.

A formal response to the NSW Parliamentary Inquiry into health outcomes and access to health and hospital services in rural, regional and remote New South Wales will be handed down in coming months.

Since June 2012, the NSW Government has increased the health workforce by 25,278 Full Time Equivalent (FTE) or 24.8 per cent, including an increase of 10,123 FTE positions in regional and rural NSW. The rural and regional medical workforce has increased by 1,586 FTE (or 47.6 per cent) since June 2012.

Of the 46 NSW hospital redevelopments or upgrades underway or commencing in 2021-22 statewide, nearly two-thirds are in rural and regional towns of NSW.

Since 2011, more than 170 health capital works projects have been completed across NSW with more than 110 projects completed in rural and regional NSW.