Abbott Government needs rural health wake-up call

Latest life expectancy figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics should be a wake-up call to the Abbott Government over its complete lack of a health plan for rural and regional Australia.

ABS data shows a massive 14 year gap between the life expectancy of a person in remote NSW of just 67.8 years, compared to the average Australian of 82.1 years.

The Abbott Government has no comprehensive rural health policy and has abandoned preventative health in rural and regional communities, axing the Australian National Preventative Health Agency (ANPHA) – the only body dedicated to improving preventative health policy at the Commonwealth level

This can only hamper efforts to tackle conditions such as chronic diabetes, obesity and complications from heavy smoking which have a much higher incidence in rural and regional areas.

In the past 12 months, Tony Abbott has cut health and hospital funding by more than $50 billion, setting our health system back decades.

He has cut over $125 million from Indigenous health programs, many of which were targeted at disadvantaged communities in rural and remote Australia, introduced budget measures that will rip $1.4 billion from rural and remote general practices. On top of this, he has announced a medicine price hike, announced a GP Tax that will rip the heart out of Medicare, destroyed Labor’s community-focused Medicare Local network and abolished Health Workforce Australia, an crucially important body set up by Labor to help address Australia’s growing health workforce challenges.

These cruel cuts will only make things worse for patients in rural and regional Australia.

Rural and regional Australians deserve a Government that will champion their health needs, not one that makes hollow promises to get elected and then completely betrays them.