Looming health crisis requires action

Personal health in Lake Macquarie was the theme addressed by Suzanne Pritchard, Greens candidate for Lake Macquarie, at the official launch of the Greens State election campaign on Sunday.
“Health in Lake Macquarie is a dichotomy. People chose to live in the area because of the environmental beauty and village atmosphere which provides physical and mental health benefits, but the isolation of many communities and the semi rural infrastructure that exists make servicing the health needs of an ageing community a challenge,” Suzanne said.
“Unless there are long term strategies put into place, the projected population expansion of 60,000 people and minimal infrastructure, will result in this electorate being in a desperate health situation in the near future.”
GP access in western Lake Macquarie is the 6th worse for GP shortages in urban NSW, 37th in urban Australia, and there has been a constant decline in the availability of bulk billing in Lake Macquarie over the past 5 years.
The Greens Health policy supports training more medical staff and providing support for health professionals in rural and remote areas. The Greens also support the expansion of the community health centres.
“This strategy seems one of the most realistic options to enable health services to be provided throughout the electorate close to the people to reduce the travelling time by patients and addresses the lack of public transport options to get to a health service,” Suzanne said.
“Mental health services are pitiful in Lake Macquarie. The closure of the Morisset hospital has resulted in mental health issues becoming social issues within the western Lake Macquarie community. The Greens support accommodation and community care initiatives to support the needs of the people who need support.
“Disability associated with an aging population is a social equity issue. Footpaths, ramps, rails, toilets in public places and appropriate public transport options are all policy initiatives the Greens feel will help keep our communities accessible to all.
“The health of our youth also needs to be addressed. High unemployment and the remoteness of many Lake Macquarie suburbs, means that local ‘partying’ with excessive alcohol consumption is one of the main entertainment outlets. The Greens are committed to harm minimisation, exploring approaches which treat drug use as a health and social issue.”
Greens Health Policy Summary
Addressing the crisis in public health
The Greens are committed to redressing the poor state of health of many groups within the community. Mentally ill people are discharged prematurely without adequate provision for care and housing. Inadequate resources are allocated for the care of people with intellectual and physical disabilities. Obesity and diabetes are on the rise. The levels of health of Australia’s
Indigenous populations are still deplorable.
Early discharge of seriously ill patients and long waiting lists are a direct result of chronic underfunding and staff shortages. Swift access to emergency services is virtually unavailable to critically injured people in outer metropolitan and rural areas.
Improved funding for health care is essential. The Greens’ platform emphasises preventative health care, government funding for dental care, affordability and access, and training more health practitioners.
The health impacts of social issues such as poverty, housing, workplace conditions, access to public transport and the boredom of unemployment must be recognised.
Illnesses caused or aggravated by air, noise and water pollution must be countered with determined and vigorous Government action to address the environmental causes.
The Greens call for:

  • reducing emergency department and out patient waiting times;
  • increased funding for basic health promotion and disease prevention;
  • increased funding for mental health services to satisfy acute and community care needs;
  • expansion of community health centres;
  • Implementing a Charter of Patient Rights;
  • access to dental health care for all;
  • addressing the appalling health status of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people;
  • providing adequate detoxification and treatment for people with substance dependencies;
  • supporting maternity and birthing services and ensure all women have access to adequate personal income, leave, rest and social support during maternity and parenting;
  • training more medical practitioners and providing support for health professionals in rural and remote areas;
  • banning transfats and enforcing accurate and comprehensive food labelling; and
  • reforming the state/federal funding model which leads to cost shifting and buck passing.
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