IT’S time to talk about health.
More to the point, it’s time to talk about our health services, and why they do not receive the funding they deserve.
Why is a sector so pivotal to our communities – in keeping them active, healthy and, let’s face it, alive – not appropriately funded?
Fundamentally, the reasoning – at least anecdotally – comes back to numbers.
We know more people live in the city, and hence city hospitals receive far more funding. That’s a given, and is perfectly logical.
But what isn’t right is that even with populations taken into account, rural hospitals and health care services still seem to receive a disproportionate amount of funding.
While governments would never say one person’s health is more important than another’s, it can sometimes feel that this is the message when you live in a rural and remote area, and continually hear of calls for greater health funding falling on deaf ears.
We appreciate that the level of service demand here is less than in the city, and that our population cannot sustain the breadth of services required in a metropolitan area. And we’re grateful for the amazing health projects that have been funded here in recent years.
But when health groups are recording deficits because they are offering services that they cannot necessarily afford but feel they need to provide to address gaps in our communities, something needs to be done.
Wimmera Health Care Group chief executive Catherine Morley says in today’s Mail-Times the group is not prepared to compromise on its offerings – and the safety of the services it provides – despite recording an operating deficit in consecutive years.
If health in our region was appropriately funded, the group could potentially avoid that financial position.
Generating more health funding is not as simple as a government minister writing on a blank cheque.
However, when we hear about multi-billion-dollar projects being funded elsewhere and other random projects seemingly plucked out of nowhere, it’s hard not to get at least a little annoyed that some of that money was not directed into more life-critical streams.
We are now into a new state government term, with a new federal government term to follow next year after an election in May.
Let’s hope these changes go some way to bringing about a renewed focus on rural health. Our communities deserve it.