Labor must heed warning on country health, says Grylls

30 Jul, 2008 02:03 PM
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The Nationals WA leader Brendon Grylls has urged the State to heed warnings from the Rural Doctors' Association about the country health crisis.

He said it was important the Carpenter Government acknowledged the Association's State president Rob Whitehead's assessment that the city-centric attitudes of politicians had "left pockets of the State with unsafe health care".

Dr Whitehead's assessment follows the State Government's weekend decision to only part-fund the Royal Flying Doctor Service's WA requirements.

Mr Grylls said further dire warnings about country health had been delivered by Rural Doctors' Association federal president, Dr Peter Rischbieth, who said people living in rural and remote areas were expected to die three years earlier than those in metropolitan areas.

"There is no excuse for rich states like WA to refuse to fund a jet aircraft for vital health providers like the RFDS and no excuse not to base an emergency helicopter in Wheatbelt WA," Mr Grylls said.

"There is also no excuse not to offer decent pay and accommodation packages to attract more health professionals to regional communities.

"There are just 562 general practitioners working in rural areas which is grossly inadequate for a state the size of Western Australia."

Mr Grylls said the Association’s damning assessment of rural health follows criticism earlier this year by former WA Country Health Service chief executive Christine O'Farrell that country health was "blatantly bloody unsafe".

"The Labor Government has systematically wrecked country health over the past seven years by killing off local hospital boards and reducing many small country hospitals to nursing posts," Mr Grylls said.

"Under Labor’s hub-and-spoke model the sick and injured are forced to endure long trips to reach the nearest medical help and that’s why it is more important than ever to help fund a jet and a country-based emergency helicopter."

Mr Grylls claimed the RFDS now spent more than 80pc of its time ferrying patients to metropolitan hospitals because country hospitals could not cope.

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