Western NSW Primary Health Network (WNSW PHN) has reaffirmed its commitment to ensuring General Practices are retained across the region as part of the NSW Parliamentary Inquiry into Health outcomes and access to health and hospital services in rural, regional, and remote New South Wales.
In its submission, WNSW PHN has identified 41 town across its region that are at risk of being without access to GP services in the next 10 to 15 years, with Coolah, Mendooran, Wentworth and Binaway among locations that have recently lost their GP.
Many smaller centres across the region already rely on outreach GP services provided by other nearby locations, while many of the region’s ageing GPs are approaching retirement and attracting younger medical professionals to the bush continues to be extremely challenging.
WNSW PHN Board Chair, Dr Robin Williams, says there are clear ways forward to reducing the risks to the future of our country practices.
“Improved alignment in the investment and planning of services between NSW Health and the Commonwealth Department of Health through formal agreements between PHN and Local Health Districts (LHDs) will avoid fragmentation of services, while new service and funding models of the Medicare Benefits Schedule (MBS) are required, as the primary model of bulk billing in our small towns is not sustainable.”
Dr Williams says, “The enhancement of NSW Health’s Rural Generalist program will also make regional GP opportunities far more attractive to young GPs.”
“Continued support is also a critical factor, and we really require a new model of
mentorship, continuing professional development and business to support healthcare professionals and retain their services locally.”
Dr Williams added, “Doctors, nurses and allied health practitioners are absolutely vital to providing, supporting, and improving primary health services across Western and Far West NSW, and we are committed to finding better ways to ensure the continued operation, enhancement and expansion of services through greater collaborations and partnerships.”
Submissions to the NSW Inquiry closed last month, while hearings are scheduled to commence on March 19, 2021, at Parliament House, Sydney.