Crikey Is Right: The Real Priorities In Health Are Outside The Cities

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28th January 2010, 06:10pm - Views: 976

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Media Release

28 January 2010

Crikey is right: the real priorities in health are outside the cities

Writing in Crikey yesterday, Bernard Keane argued that the real priorities in health are mainly

outside cities. He is right – a man born in a disadvantaged part of western New South Wales

can expect to live about 11 years less than one born in an affluent Sydney suburb.

Seventy per cent of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people live outside the capital cities

and their life expectancy is 13 to 17 years less than it is for Australia's non-Indigenous


Those in rural and remote areas are, in aggregate, both older and poorer while a greater

proportion have a disability compared with their major city cousins. People in non-

metropolitan areas also experience more health risk factors such as obesity, smoking and,

perhaps surprisingly, the adverse effects of a sedentary lifestyle.

Access to health services is much poorer in rural and remote areas, with serious shortages of

doctors, dentists, nurses, allied health professionals such as podiatrists and experienced


The National Rural Health Alliance welcomes the fact that Prime Minister Rudd has promised

2010 will be a year of major health reform. The estimated seven million people living in rural

and remote areas will support any reform aimed at improving their current level of health and

the health services to which they have access.

However, the Alliance also agrees with writer Bernard Keane that health reform must not

default back to “who funds hospitals”. The more important question is how we can provide

people in regional communities with better health services.

There are some clear improvements that can and should be made. No need to wait for a Grand

Plan on health reform – early investment can start with the 2010-11 Budget.


Dr Jenny May - Chair: 0427 885 337

Marshall Wilson - Media: 0419 664 155

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