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Federal election: Coalition’s $1 billion boost for rural and regional health

Rural health care will get a billion-dollar boost to support the next generation of country doctors and improve training and treatment if the Morrison Government is re-elected.

The Liberal-Nationals coalition is set to announce the package, which builds on existing funding announced in the March budget, on Tuesday.

It includes an additional $146 million to encourage healthcare workers to move to rural and regional Australia, $15 million to provide more than 1000 placements annually in rural Australia by 2026, and $35 million to expand models of collaborative care.

It also includes $87 million to provide incentives for GP’s and allied health professionals to access additional education and skills to work in the regions.

Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce will unveil the package during a visit to the Victorian regional city of Shepparton, in the safe Nationals seat of Nicholls.

Depleted health workforces were a critical issue across rural Australia, Mr Joyce said.

“Geography shouldn’t be a barrier to health care,” he said.

The plan to deliver more doctors and health professionals into regional and rural communities would boost the regional health workforce and ensure regional Australians received care close to home.

“Just as people do in capital cities,” Mr Joyce said.

Additionally, general practitioners will be supported to work in country hospitals by expanding the Murrumbidgee single-employer model trial to more regions across rural Australia.

The program will allow more doctors training to be rural-generalist GPs to improve their skills and provide community and hospital-based services such as anaesthetics, obstetrics, mental health and emergency medicine.

The package aims to build on previous initiatives such as removing university debt for doctors and nurses who work in rural towns, and investments in telehealth.

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