Country Women's Association NSW to launch healthcare awareness campaign on Friday

WIDENING GAP: The Country Women's Association of NSW says there is an unhealthy disparity between the city and rural areas when it comes to access to specialists. Photo: FILE
WIDENING GAP: The Country Women's Association of NSW says there is an unhealthy disparity between the city and rural areas when it comes to access to specialists. Photo: FILE

SOME communities in rural Australia are on the brink of a healthcare crisis because of a lack of access to specialists.

That’s the dire warning from the Country Women's Association (CWA) of NSW as the group prepares for a week-long campaign.

The CWA of NSW says 162.1 full-time equivalent specialists are available per 100,000 people in major cities – but that figure drops dramatically to 82.7 and 61.5 full-time equivalent specialists in inner and outer regional areas respectively.

And for remote areas, it’s even worse: just 34.2 specialists per 100,000 people.

The CWA of NSW, which quoted the figures from a 2017 report from the Medical Journal Of Australia, will kick off a week-long campaign on Friday to expose what the group says is a widening healthcare gap between the cities and regional areas.

“The ongoing erosion of healthcare services in rural and regional areas is a serious issue, but for too long concerns have been ignored, forcing many communities to the brink of a healthcare crisis,” CWA state president Annette Turner said.

“Seven million Australians live outside our major cities, but when it comes to allocating health funding, this level of representation doesn’t seem to count for much."

The campaign will focus on the shortage of general practitioners in rural and regional areas, poor access to dental care, and the shortage of drug and alcohol support and rehabilitation services. 

The other concerns include a shortage of mental health services and a lack of psychological support for those in rural areas with a chronic or terminal illness.