Call for rural health to be part of review

Increased funding for palliative care and for training more rural doctors and nurses, as well as more money to provide medical services to accommodate booming tourism numbers, are all things Dalton Kelly would like to see included as part of the new review of health services.

The Government announced a comprehensive review of health and disability services last week.

As chief executive of the New Zealand Rural General Practice Network, Mr Kelly is happy to put his hand up to sit on the review board to ensure rural health is included in the review, but membership will not be announced for another couple of months.

The review’s report will be finalised in about 2020.

”That is a long way down the track and there is a lot of work to be done to get there,” Mr Kelly said.

He said one of the issues was the pressure increased tourism numbers could put on general practices and he wanted that as one of the focuses in the review.

Rural townships which were ”gateways to national parks or water activities” or had inexperienced drivers of mobile homes on its roads, had an increased potential for accidents.

If there was an emergency, doctors might not be able to attend as they were likely to be too busy and under pressure dealing with other patients.

”Some doctors are already saying that and a whole lot more considering saying it,” Mr Kelly said.

In addition, in keeping with an ageing population, there was an increased need for more funding for palliative care.

While he said there were ”lovely hospices” in many towns, there were few in rural New Zealand.

”A lot of the palliative care is done by rest-homes and by GPs,” he said.

”What is going to happen, is it will be a burden that will fall on GPs to deliver that care and that is a huge problem.”

A survey carried out by the Royal New Zealand College of General Practitioners in 2017, indicated about half of its GP members intended to retire within the next 10 years.

Mr Kelly would like to see a decision made and funding allocated to create a rural medical training college.

He said spending more money on primary care, meant more people would be kept out of hospitals, which would be better for them and would save money in the long run.

-By Yvonne O’Hara

Southern Rural Life