New-look rural health services

Provider. Smithton’s Rural Health Tasmania will provide health services to four municipalities in the north west as part of a new rural primary health program funded through the federal government.

Effective January 1, people with chronic conditions living in the Circular Head, Waratah-Wynyard, West Coast and King Island municipal will be able to access services from the locally based provider.

Rural Health chief executive officer Robert Waterman said the organisation, which has been providing rural primary health services in the region since 2001, was committed to improving the health and wellbeing of people living in rural communities.

“We have a highly dedicated professional team of clinicians who are committed to providing the most appropriate care to people affected by or at risk of chronic disease,” he said.

“[We] will be focused on improving the health outcomes of people with mental illness, cancer, circulatory and respiratory diseases – such as heart disease and lung disease – and musculoskeletal conditions including arthritis.”

Mr Waterman said services would be directed at reducing the severity of patients’ symptoms and minimising the need for them to be admitted to hospital due to complications.

“People need and are entitled to have confidence in a rural primary health service that listens to the patient and includes them in discussions about their care and treatment; a health service that is committed to providing quality health outcomes for Tasmanians.”

Services will be provided in partnership with the Tasmanian Health Service and the north-west based Psychology Caffe, a group practice that specialises in the assessment and treatment of children and adolescents.

Rural Health will also work closely with Diabetes Tasmania, which will be delivering services to rural communities across the state to support people with or at risk of developing type two diabetes.

Locally, Mr Waterman said the organisation had been preparing for this change for the last couple of years in the hopes of securing the tender position.

“Through professional development and supervision, we’ve managed to engage our staff in the necessary training and skills [for the transition].

“It will be a much larger service.”

Following the announcement in late December, Tasmanian Minister for Health Michael Ferguson said he was “deeply concerned” about the outcome of the tender process for rural health services by Primary Health Tasmania as it appears to have short changed many regional communities.

“I will be urgently discussing the Tasmanian government’s concerns with the board and CEO of Primary Health Tasmania,” Mr Ferguson said.

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