The Nationals WA believe all patients, no matter where they live, deserve access to world class health care.
The Nationals WA will continue their longstanding commitment to investing in the health and wellbeing of regional Western Australians by establishing a State Rural Health Commissioner if the Party is returned to government in 2021.
In government The Nationals WA invested record amounts of funding to deliver better regional healthcare and improve regional health outcomes.
Programs such as the $600 million Southern Inland Health Initiative (SIHI) significantly improved service accessibility through telehealth, invested in new nursing posts and hospitals and enabled research into health service delivery.
Our $200 million investment built the brand new Karratha Health Campus – the single biggest investment in regional health infrastructure in WA’s history. These investments have proved vital to ensuring regional and remote WA were well placed to prepare for health responses to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Our investment helped recalibrate healthcare inequities across regional WA, yet people living outside the metropolitan area still suffer poor health outcomes:
- Life expectancy in regional WA is 81.1 years, compared to 83.1 if you lived in Perth.
- 1.4 times more likely to be hospitalised in regional areas for respiratory disease, cellulitis, epilepsy and ear, nose and throat infections.
- 1.3 times more likely to be affected by diabetes.
- Children in remote areas are at increased risk of oral health and hygiene.
Establishing a Commissioner will provide an independent and fearless champion with a laser sharp focus on regional health. The independent position will be appointed to monitor regional health outcomes, consult with health stakeholders and the community and importantly to recommend change that will make a difference to the health and lives of regional Western Australians.
The role of Commissioner would complement the agenda of the National Rural Health Commissioner established by the Federal Government in 2017.
However, the State Commissioner would adopt an organisational model similar to that of the Commissioner for Children and Young People.
The Commissioner would be an independent officer of the State Parliament and could report to a joint standing committee or an existing committee of both houses.
The office must remain independent of government and the public and private sector to ensure that advice and recommendations are not influenced and are provided with impartiality.
- We will establish a State Rural Health Commissioner to provide independent advice and report on rural and regional health in Western Australia.
- The office will be funded through Royalties for Regions with an initial contribution of $3m per annum ($15m over 5 years).
- The office and its operations will be legislated to provide certainty and continuity for future generations of regional Western Australians.
- The Commissioner will ensure transparent reporting on the efficacy and availability of service delivery in our regions.
- The Commissioner will work in conjunction with the National Rural Health Commissioner and other similar bodies to ensure collaboration and avoid duplication of resources where possible.
The Nationals WA invite feedback on this discussion paper.