RURAL ADVOCATE: Dr Adam Coltzau of the RDAA is taking a stand on funding for outback hospitals.
RURAL ADVOCATE: Dr Adam Coltzau of the RDAA is taking a stand on funding for outback hospitals. Mackenzie Colahan

Cuts are bleeding bush hospitals dry, say rural doctors

THE best patient outcomes in rural Australia are achieved through local, high-quality health care provided through rural general practices and country hospitals - and Australia's governments need to better support this model of care.

That's the message from the Rural Doctors Association of Australia, which is calling for increased support for country hospitals to ensure they can continue to deliver the best outcomes for patients.

RDAA president Dr Adam Coltzau said failure to do so could be devastating for small communities.

"There is an urgent need for a greater range of regional specialists and support for them,” Dr Coltzau said.

"There is also a need for more broader recognition and acceptance of the extended scope of practice and skills of the rural generalists they support.

"Many services at rural hospitals rely on each other to remain viable, so if the birthing unit closes then it becomes harder for the hospital to maintain other services such as anaesthesia or surgery.

"Rural doctors and hospitals are essential to the bush. The time has come for us all to make a stand against the further reduction of any services.

"Any cuts to rural hospital services impact our patients - not only their safety, but also their social, financial and physical well-being.

"We call on all hospital boards to ensure they strive to maintain or expand the scope of care that their facility provides.”