Lawyers welcome inquiry into rural and regional health to prevent further tragedy

The NSW Parliamentary Inquiry into rural and regional health announced yesterday is a positive step towards preventing further tragedies caused by failures in the system, says the Australian Lawyers Alliance (ALA).

“ALA members represent patients and their families who have suffered as a result of negligent care, staff shortages and ill-equipped facilities in regional and rural NSW,” said ALA spokesperson, Catherine Henry. Ms Henry is a regional NSW based health lawyer and advocate for healthcare reform who has been practising for 30 years.

“Negligence cases and inquests involving avoidable death and serious injury are too frequent in rural and regional areas,” she said. “It is always heart-breaking to hear the experiences that individuals and their families have endured. I have seen too many cases of preventable deaths and too many reports highlighting issues that governments have failed to act on.”

“We are pleased the government has finally responded to the many voices who have been calling for an inquiry for some time now.

“It is not fair or just that people living outside the city should experience significantly poorer health outcomes than those living in the suburbs. It should not take an inquiry to ensure equal access to health care for everyone but, if this is what is needed to make the government act, then we welcome it.”

The ALA says that increased transparency in relation to data on death rates and adverse events would help patients make more informed decisions, and help everyone better understand the issues in the regions.

“Public access to this data by postcode – as is available in the United States and England – would help people better understand the risks and issues,” said Ms Henry.

The ALA is a national association of lawyers, academics, and other professionals dedicated to protecting and promoting justice, freedom and the rights of the individual.

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