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Rural Health Forum a success

14 February 2005
Media Statement

Rural Health Forum a success

Today's Rural Primary Health Care Forum in Wellington was a great success, says Associate Health Minister Damien O’Connor.

The Forum brought together a range of health professionals, community representatives, academics and government officials to discuss issues facing primary health care in rural communities. Health Minister Annette King also attended.

Mr O'Connor said a real spirit of collaboration marked the day. “The forum was attended by a hugely diverse range of people, all of whom had come together to find solutions to what are very difficult issues.

“We've come a long way and achieved some great things in rural health over the past five years, but I think we all recognise that some key challenges lie ahead, the main ones being retention and recruitment of health professionals in rural areas and the pressures of 24-hour service provision."

The forum provided the opportunity for everyone to come together, air issues and hear each other’s points of view, he said.

"We've come away with some very positive ideas about how to move forward and priorities for ongoing government initiatives."

Twenty-two key people from around New Zealand and from different parts of the health sector participated in the Forum, with the aim of ensuring strong primary health care services for rural communities.

"The Labour-led government is committed to providing all New Zealanders with accessible, affordable primary health care, and that extends to all corners of the country," Mr O'Connor said.

"We committed $32 million over three years to help rural areas retain GPs, nurses and other health workers. An additional $10.9m annual funding boost was announced in October last year to safeguard the rural health workforce. We've put locum support schemes and reasonable roster funding in place to make rural practice more attractive, and this year the Ministry of Health will undertake further work on incentives for rural health workers. Today was a key part in that progress."

ENDS

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