Rural health training hubs praised

Minister for Rural Communities Damien O’Connor has welcomed the Minister of Health’s commitment to develop rural health training hubs.

“Minister Clark’s announcement yesterday shows the Government is listening to rural New Zealand and follows on from the rural proofing policy we introduced last year.

“Those living in rural communities can enjoy excellent lifestyles but they face unique challenges that must be reflected in Government policy.

“This past year alone has seen drought, floods and biosecurity incursions, which cause stress across in rural communities. The Rural Proofing Policy ensures that when policy-makers sit down to design the rules they take into account the unique factors that affect rural communities such as low populations, isolation, and reliance on the primary sector for employment.

“Rural Kiwis should have equitable access to social and economic opportunities, to reach their full potential.

“Developing rural health training hubs in which a range of medical professionals are trained inside rural communities is a great way to build communities up and encourage connections.

‘We’ve all heard stories about rural communities finding it hard to attract GPs and other health professionals. This is a real concern. It means rural Kiwi’s aren’t getting the same access to healthcare as urban Kiwi’s - and that has to be fixed.

“If students are training in rural communities and becoming a part of that community, many will stay at the end of their studies.

“I know there’s still a lot of detail to work through but I’m very excited to see progress towards the first hub and I look forward to watching this initiative flourish.’’