Rural Kiwis getting raw deal on health care compared to cities, say doctors and councils


Rural Kiwis are not receiving the same health care support as city dwellers, say doctors, councils and rural companies. 

They say the ability to recruit and keep doctors and nurses is severely hampered by a lack of investment in rural communities by the Government. 

Kaikoura GP Chris Henry said it took the quake to get vital mental health services into the area. 

"We've started to roll out some really good models which are applicable to places across the country," he said. 

The Rural Health Alliance, representing 40 groups including rural GPs and Federated Farmers, want an independent advisory body to represent 600,000 rural New Zealanders. 

Michelle Thompson of the Alliance said there should be equal services for everybody.

"If you look at 600,000 people being equivalent to our second largest city at times it doesn't feel anywhere near that resource allocation or focus," she said. 

The group want faster broadband and better mobile coverage and a recruitment strategy for health workers. 

"The average age of our main primary care workforce... would be late 50s. So really they are all within a decade of retirement, so if we don't do something now we'll have a crisis ," Ms Thompson said. 

The Health Minister's office said it invested another $600,000 last year into rural mental health, and already has a bonding scheme in place to help retain workers.

"It's about making our rural towns vibrant and liveable again, because once we solve that we will start solving a lot of our other issues," Ms Thompson said. 

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