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Work continues on local health lobbying



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MEDIA RELEASE

22 December 2010

WORK CONTINUES ON LOCAL HEALTH LOBBYING

INDEPENDENT MP for Lyne Robert Oakeshott today re-affirmed that lobbying continues in seven key areas for Mid-North Coast health services.

“Firstly, our region is lobbying to be one of the „early adopters‟ of Medicare Locals,” Mr Oakeshott said.

“The minister has indicated that only 15 Medicare Locals will be announced in the first round and we are doing what we can to have the two proposed primary health care organisations in our electorate included in these.

“This is the future direction of preventative care in Australia and our region is ready to lead in this regard.

“Secondly, we continue to push on Health and Hospital Reform more generally. Federal and State governments must stay committed to this important reform agenda.

“Structural and financial agreements are looking to be finalised on February 14 and the Commonwealth needs to get this right.

“I note, for example, the anomaly where NSW has introduced a unique idea of „Clinical Support Clusters‟, which in my view needs to be pounced on as anti-reform, rather than pro-reform.

“It does not make sense to me that we have local network boundaries established and now NSW has created these new entities, which seem to be the latest example of the State creeping back into this major Commonwealth reform.”

Mr Oakeshott said the third issue was landing the $1.8 billion Health and Hospital funding round for regional Australia, which closed on December 3.

“This funding is a direct result of our unique Parliament. I understand more than 200 applications have gone in seeking over $5 billion of regional works,” he said.

“I am pleased that a $110 million application for work at Port Macquarie Base Hospital has been submitted and I will be lobbying as a local MP to try and make it successful.

“Fourthly, tenders close today for the $7 million GP Super Clinic in Port Macquarie, with a number of high quality submissions expected and a decision due in early 2011.

“This is expected to contribute on the two key fronts of improving training in medical and allied health services, as well as delivering more options for after-hours care.

Still on primary care, Mr Oakeshott said a fifth priority would be to see more funding into the region from infrastructure grants for GPs and community health services, due to open in the new year.

“For some reason our region‟s GPs did not submit any applications for the latest round of primary care infrastructure funding, and I have asked the minister to strongly publicise these grants and assist where required when the next round opens in April,” Mr Oakeshott said.

“Sixth on the list, we are working hard on increasing training opportunities in health and allied health services throughout the region.

“In particular, the University of Newcastle will begin operating in Taree in 2011 and the University of NSW is considering expansion options in Port Macquarie. These are both exciting and important growth opportunities for the region‟s health services.

“And finally, for the next four months we will be spending a lot of time and effort looking at a coordinated mental health push for the region.

“Good money and resourcing is starting in some areas, such as the Dementia Respite Unit in Port Macquarie and the Endeavour Clubhouse model, but we are looking to do more and pushing government to do more.

“Only five MPs - myself and four other non-aligned members - voted for better mental health services in regional Australia in the Parliament last month, so this is an important policy battleground in early 2011.

“Health services in the region are getting a lot of attention right now. The next three to four months are going to be critical in bringing home these seven key areas currently being finalised or worked on.

“As always, all help from community members is welcome,” Mr Oakeshott said.

ENDS

Media contacts:

Garth Norris - 0429-787320