The NSW Government has relaunched the Regional Health Ministerial Advisory Panel to help improve essential health services across regional and rural NSW.
“This important advisory body brings together a wealth of knowledge, experience and expertise across a range of areas, from clinical care and health service delivery to community engagement and culture and change management,” said Regional Health Minister Ryan Park.
“It’s these key connections and local experiences we’ll be drawing on to help us improve health outcomes for people living in our regions, ensuring their postcode doesn’t decide the level of health care they receive.”
The 10-member panel will be chaired by NSW Rural Doctors Network chief executive Dr Richard Colbran and will focus on building the workforce, strengthening community engagement and improving the health outcomes of First Nations people.
“I am excited to be working with Dr Colbran and the panel as we build on the great work happening in hospitals, health services and local communities across regional NSW every day,” Mr Park said.
“I’ve said this many times before: you can build hospitals and healthcare facilities, but this alone won’t deliver the care our regional communities need without a strong, supported health workforce.
“Retention and recruitment of experienced staff will be one of the key focus areas for this new advisory panel.”
Reinstalled panel member and Temora Mayor Rick Firman said it was a great opportunity to speak up for the Riverina and regional health across the state.
“I’ve got to give credit to the Government for maintaining the Regional Health portfolio and for deciding to keep this panel going,” he said.
“I really think we checked a few boxes in the 12 months since we started and I feel that there’s so much more we can achieve together.”
Cr Firman agreed with the Minister that workforce considerations will be a big focus.
“There’s a lot of work to do around enhancing incentives for rural doctors to be in rural communities and I think there’s got to be some answers in that space,” he said.
“And that goes for the general workforce and the nursing staff as well. We need to assist wherever we can and not just expect others to do all the legwork and have all the answers.
“There’s a desire to want to help and to be part of the solution.”
The members have been appointed for up to three years and represent a broad spectrum of regional Australia.
Parliamentary Secretary for Regional Health Dr Michael Holland said the panel would be a crucial voice for people living in the bush.
“The panel represents communities and organisations from regional, rural and remote NSW and includes a significant representation of people from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities,” Dr Colbran said.
“In NSW there are tremendously talented and committed professionals across the health and social care system, who work well with the Government, private and not-for-profit providers to achieve excellent outcomes for their communities.”
The Regional Health Ministerial Advisory Panel will hold its first meeting later this month.