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Election result win for rural health?

Groups urge independents to step up to the plate on rural health issues.

The hung parliament could deliver a stronger focus on regional and rural health, according to groups.

With the balance of power now in the hands of independents, three from rural seats, there is a “unique opportunity” for rural Australia to have a real voice in how health is provided, said Dr Nola Maxfield, Rural Doctors Association of Australia president.

“Now is the time to move to address the rural health crisis. We hope the independents will step up to the plate on rural health,” she said.

“For the independent MPs considering which side of politics they will support in the new parliament, a key consideration clearly needs to be which party will address the concerns rural Australians have about access to health services.

“The party that can tick the boxes that will ensure we build a well-trained health workforce in rural Australia must be supported.”

Health care should be at the centre of negotiations over how to form a stable government, said Prue Power, Australian Healthcare and Hospitals Association executive director.

“There is no doubt that people living outside our capital cities and major urban centres have been short-changed when it comes to access to health care,” she said.

“Improving access to primary care services is one of the most important strategies to improve the health of regional communities. This includes a focus on preventive care and chronic disease management through multi-disciplinary care.”

As well as continuing to focus on strengthening primary care services, Power said other issues, such as public dental care, indigenous health, mental health and the private health insurance debate, needed to be put on the table as part of negotiations.

“The record support for the Greens can, at least in part, be attributed to the failure of both major parties to deliver satisfactory policies on these key health issues which affect the lives of millions of Australians every day and yet were virtually ignored by the major parties during the campaign,” Power said.

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