Rural health reaping the benefits of facilities and services boost

28 Dec, 2010 11:41 AM

Generations of West Australians will reap the benefits of the State Government’s upgrades to health services and facilities undertaken in rural WA in 2010.

Health Minister Kim Hames said today the upgrades were making a real difference to the lives of people living in WA’s rural and remote areas.

“The WA Country Health Service is the biggest in Australia and one of the largest in the world, its hospitals see more emergency presentations than the metropolitan hospitals combined and there are almost as many maternity births as at King Edward Memorial Hospital,” Dr Hames said.

“This year, the operating budget for the WA Country Health Service is a massive $1billion, which is supporting record levels of activity in areas such as emergency departments and elective surgery.

“Overall, the WA Country Health Service’s $1billion capital works program is improving facilities in every region. The State Government’s Royalties for Regions program provided $214.8million in funding, which is being channelled into major building programs.

“The Pilbara community now has the modern $138million Hedland Health Campus; Busselton received a $40.5million increase in the allocation for the new hospital, taking the total investment to $117.9million for a new health campus; and we also opened a new palliative care unit in Kalgoorlie-Boulder.

“Yesterday, I announced that builders have been appointed to construct the $170million Albany Health Campus and the second stage of the $55.8million Kalgoorlie Health Campus redevelopment.

“An Aboriginal Health Improvement Unit was established, we introduced the Aboriginal Employment Strategy 2010-2014 and the Indigenous Employment Program.

“In the Pilbara, the $4.87million Indigenous Employment program will recruit 100 new Aboriginal staff at the rate of 20 per year.”

The Minister said there had been new equipment provided to many country hospitals and a $6million upgrade to the Telehealth system which provided specialist consultation to people without them having to leave their homes.

“A $24.14million medical imaging contract was awarded to provide a comprehensive radiological service, including MRI and nuclear medicine at Bunbury Hospital,” he said.

“This is in addition to a $14.9million redevelopment to Bunbury Hospital, which includes the expansion of the Emergency Department and the Intensive Care Unit.

“This year, the State Government launched the roll-out of its $128.7million reform program under the Council of Australian Governments National Partnership agreements, to improve Aboriginal health in WA in the next four years.”

The State Government has strengthened emergency ambulance services in WA with an additional $149.6million over four years, which will result in 25 new vehicles, more staff and improvements to the St John Ambulance communication centre.

The Government has provided the Royal Flying Doctor Service with $65million over five years for additional aircraft and crews.

To further assist West Australians living in remote, rural and regional areas of the State gain access to quality medical services, the Government has invested $7.5million extra funding each year for the Patient Assisted Travel Scheme.

Additional Royalties for Regions funding of $30.8million over three and a half years, announced in 2009, has already seen a number of improvements being made to the scheme, increasing the support and subsidy rates provided to country patients.

“I am sure West Australians will be able to look back on 2010 as a year in which we saw the beginning of what is a real improvement to the services and facilities in WA rural health,” Dr Hames said.



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