New Wales villagers have been “let down” by a health care system that prefers big cities and leaves people in the bushes with poorer health and poor care, a scathing new report says.
The parliamentary committee, which began reviewing rural health outcomes in August 2020, presented its report on Thursday.
Labor MP and committee chairman Greg Donnelly wrote in the preface that regional residents “have repeatedly … failed the health care system.”
“We’ve heard stories of ambulances without doctors; about patients cared for by cooks and cleaners; excessive anticipation of treatment; and misdiagnosis and medical errors, ”he wrote.
“This evidence is by no means a reflection of the fact that NSW health workers work tirelessly in difficult circumstances; rather it is the accusation of the system that allowed this situation to develop.
“Overall, the committee found that residents of rural, regional and remote NSWs have poorer health outcomes and poorer access to health and hospital services, and face significant financial challenges in accessing these services compared to their metropolitan counterparts.
“This is a situation that can and should not be considered acceptable.”
The committee issued 44 recommendations, including that NSW Health should seek an urgent increase in the number of nurses and midwives and coordination with the Commonwealth to fill gaps in health care coverage.
Regional areas for investigation purposes have been identified as locations outside the largest metropolitan areas of Sydney, Newcastle and Wollongong.
Last year, more than 700 applications were accepted and hearings were held in several regional communities.