Community at core of new Canola Fields health care model

Canowindra and surrounding communities will benefit from a new primary health care model to improve access to local health care and provide better continuity of care for rural patients.

Regional Health Minister and Member for Parkes, Mark Coulton said the Coalition Government is investing in first-of-a-kind primary care models as part of a broader effort to improve health outcomes for rural Australians.

The 2020-21 Budget invests $3.3 million in new models of primary care to help pioneer local solutions to team based care and provide better healthcare services across sub-regions in western and southern NSW.

“The challenge of delivering health services in small communities is well known, and it is clear the existing one-size-fits-all approach isn’t working for every rural community,” Minister Coulton said.

“We are breaking new ground by investing in sub-regional models of primary care to provide local solutions and to test how these new approaches can address perennial rural health challenges across the nation.

“This is about maximising the potential of our local health services and health professionals to deliver practical, team-based health care for small, connected communities.”

Federal Member for Calare, Andrew Gee said the Canola Fields project will provide more effective and sustainable health services across the region.

“What is significant about this new approach in the Canola Fields is the concept has been designed locally to support the community of 2,000 people in the region who look to Canowindra for their health services,” Minister Gee said.

“I commend the leadership of Dr Ros Bullock who has been instrumental in establishing the team of health professionals and turning this concept into a fully operational model which will deliver community-orientated health services.”

Senator for New South Wales Perin Davey said it was fundamental that Government worked closely with local communities and the health workforce to shape rural health policies and programs and also to attract more doctors to the bush.

“The Canola Fields model has been driven by the local community with the core focus of team-based care to enable every health professional to work to the top of their scope and provide continuity of care for patients,” Senator Davey said.

“We want more health professionals to choose a career in the bush. The rollout of the new models is a good example of how we can improve the scope of practice for doctors and health professionals and provide rewarding lifestyle and career opportunities.”

The Canola Fields model has been under development for some time with the Western NSW Collaboration, which comprises the Western NSW Primary Health Network, Western NSW Local Health District, Far Western NSW Local Health District and NSW Rural Doctors Network.

The Western NSW Collaboration has been working with local health professionals to shape unique primary care models that best fit their relevant communities.

NSW Rural Doctors Network CEO, Richard Colbran said health access issues in small and regional towns were well known.

“Canowindra and surrounding communities should be congratulated for recognising that the sum of their work together is greater than working as individual towns,” Mr Colbran said.

“This approach has enabled the construction of a multidisciplinary health service and workforce model that, if successful, could be replicated elsewhere in the country. The aim is to enhance access to quality health care, which can then be sustained.”

The models are part of the Coalition Government’s broader primary care reforms including a 10-year plan to support patient centred care and equitable access to the best available primary health care services. Minister Coulton said rural and remote primary care is a key focus of the reforms.

“If we want to make an impact to tackle health access issues in our communities, we need to understand the local needs and look at more flexible and practical solutions to delivering healthcare in the bush,” Minister Coulton said.

Further sites to be funded by the Australian Government will be announced in the future.

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