Date Published: 28 January 2009

$12 Million Rural Health Construction and Equipment Boost

Health News from Australia.

The Minister for Health and Ageing, Nicola Roxon, today announced $12 million will be invested in rural and regional health infrastructure under the Government’s new National Rural and Remote Health Infrastructure Program (NRRHIP).

Announcing the first 53 projects of the first round today while visiting Northern Rivers University Department of Rural Health in Lismore, each of the projects aims to improve access to essential health infrastructure and equipment for rural and remote communities.

The project signal the Labor Government’s ongoing determination to ensure strong health services are supported in regional communities.

Within the first 53 projects: $550,000 will be provided to the Cooma Medical Trust (NSW) to build new consulting rooms; $553,000 to improve access to dental care in outback Emerald (QLD) and $389,300 to the Maffra Medical Group to renovate and refurbish an existing building for visiting medical students and allied health professionals.

There will be further funding announcements under the first round announced in due course.

The NRRHIP was funded under the 2008-09 Federal Budget and will provide $46 million over four years for rural and remote communities, and strategic planning for small rural private hospitals.

The infrastructure program will improve access to health services by funding projects in rural and remote communities where a lack of infrastructure is a barrier to the establishment of new health services, or the enhancement of existing health services.

The National Rural and Remote Health Infrastructure Program is a competitive grants program and is a result of the Labor Government’s election commitment to reform the more limited former Rural Medical Infrastructure Fund.

The Rudd Government is committed to making needed investments in rural health, including important initiatives to improve workforce shortages across the country. In November the Government announced an investment of $1.1 billion in training more doctors, nurses and other health professionals.

This is the single biggest investment in the health workforce ever made by an Australian Government.

The Commonwealth contribution to the Health Workforce National Partnership includes:

* Almost $500 million to support the expansion of undergraduate clinical training places, and directly subsidise clinical training for undergraduate medical, nursing and allied health students
* $86 million to provide 212 additional ongoing GP training places and 73 additional specialist training places in the private sector, boosting the total number of GP training places to over 800 from 2011 onwards – a 33% increase on the cap of 600 places imposed since 2004.
* $28 million to help train approximately 18,000 nurse supervisors, 5,000 allied health and VET supervisors, and 7,000 medical supervisors – to ensure there is sufficient capacity to supervise additional students coming through the system
* $175.6 million investment in capital infrastructure to support training of the future health workforce, including funding for the construction of new and mobile high-tech simulated learning environments and the expansion of education and training facilities at major regional hospitals
* $264 million will be provided for other important initiatives including the establishment of a National Workforce Agency – to better coordinate clinical training across a range of workforce settings, and assist with workforce planning, as recommended by the Productivity Commission in its 2005 report on Australia's Health Workforce.

The first round of the NRRHIP generated a significant number of applications, demonstrating a continued need for Government support to improve the delivery of health care in rural and remote communities through better access to funding for essential health infrastructure.

Applications received under the second funding round of the National Rural and Remote Health Infrastructure Program are currently under assessment. A third funding round will be announced in the coming months.



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