The Greens have called for more preventative health funding to improve the quality of life of north coast residents.
Greens health spokesman John Kaye, who is visiting the region today, said increased funding for preventative and primary health care would keep more people out of hospital and cost less in the long term.
‘Currently the health care model focuses on treating the symptoms of disease at the crisis end of the system,’ Dr Kaye said.
‘The Greens will be taking a range of policies to the election that focus on a more holistic approach to wellbeing, with far greater funding for preventative programs and rehabilitation.
‘Neither the state nor the federal governments are doing enough to promote healthy communities and stop the incidence of in many cases preventable illnesses like heart disease, stroke, diabetes, kidney disease, hepatitis, HIV, and cancer.’
Dr Kaye is today visiting Ballina, Lismore and the Tweed with local candidates, Tamara Smith of Ballina, Adam Guise of Lismore and Andrea Vickers of the Tweed.
Dr Kaye said the funding cuts at both a state and Federal level would impact on local health services.
He also took a swipe at the Abbott government’s proposed GP co-payment, saying it would discourage people from seeking early diagnosis and treatment.
‘The Greens strongly support spending on public hospitals and out-patient services but neglecting preventative health will end up placing unacceptable stress on an already over-stretched system,’ Dr Kaye said.
Ballina candidate Tamara Smith said low income households on the north coast would be particularly vulnerable.
‘Socio-economic status is a high risk factor for preventable disease,’ she said.
‘Instead of investing in health promotion, the Liberals and Nationals budget cuts and attacks on Medicare will only make hospital waiting lists longer.
‘GPs should be the front line of care when people get sick.’
Lismore candidate Adam Guise said funding for community health centres was not adequate for the needs of the population.
‘State and federal governments must step up to the plate.
‘There are a lot of cost-savings associated with treatment in community settings rather than hospitals.
“Community health centres could also play a greater role in health prevention through education and outreach programs, focusing particularly on low income families and people with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander background.
‘The Northern NSW Local Health District admits that the overall population of the Northern NSW is projected to increase by 8.2% by 2021, with the bulk of that growth in the older age groups. The over 65 group is expected to grow by 34%.
‘The Greens are going to the next election with a policy of urgent action to significantly reduce preventable disease and its cost to the health system.’