The Western NSW Primary Health Network has singled out for praise the 2021 federal budget's boosting of a payment made to doctors in the bush who bulk bill patients
"Of particular importance to our region is the $65.8 million that has been announced for the improvements to bulk-billing rates in Australia's rural, regional and remote communities by increasing the Rural Bulk Billing Incentive payment for doctors," acting chief executive officer Robert Strickland said.
"This is a really important step in improving the viability of our region's general practices and hopefully attracting even more doctors to come and to stay in our region.
"There is still more to be done for the 43 small towns that we have identified as having fragile general practice and primary health services and we will continue to talk to stakeholders and the Commonwealth about what more is needed."
Mr Strickland welcomed the federal government's $1.8 billion commitment to "timely and affordable access to high-quality healthcare" in the annual budget.
"The funding announced for new Medicare Benefits Scheme items as well as the expansion of telehealth and extended operation of GP-led respiratory clinics is all very good news for people's health in our region," he said.
"The funding announced for after-hours service delivery is also going to prove vitally important for Western NSW, as will the funds committed to improving primary care for our seniors including those in the region's residential aged care facilities."
Mr Strickland applauded the $2.3 billion for the National Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Plan.
"The funding for suicide aftercare and postvention is particularly welcome and will see services focussed on vulnerable people who have attempted suicide and are subsequently discharged from hospitals right across Australia," he said.
"Additional funding for suicide prevention support networks will be essential for preventing suicides and I particularly welcome targeted funding for the Aboriginal community controlled sector."
The WNSW PHN is one of 31 PHNs across Australia.
They were established by the federal government to support frontline health services and increase the efficiency and effectiveness of primary healthcare.
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