Earlier this month, the Department of Health released its framework for rural and remote health services, the latest in a series of major announcements relating to the delivery of health services in Queensland, which is closely linked to the broader policy documents:Better Health for the Bush.

Both documents focus on identifying ways to deliver improved services to rural and remote communities.  In particular, Better Health for the Bush utilises the four key themes outlined in the government’s overarching Blueprint for better healthcare in Queensland of:

  • focusing health services on patients and people
  • empowering communities and healthcare workers
  • providing value in the health services delivered, and
  • investing, innovating and planning.

A critical aspect of healthcare delivery for rural and remote communities is the network of health facilities ranging from community clinics to variously categorised hospitals, including multipurpose health services.  Plans are being developed to target medium to long-term rural / remote infrastructure priorities over a 10-year period.

Underpinning the determination to facilitate improved services is a variety of key initiatives for rural and remote communities, such as:

  • the continuing roll-out of telehealth services
  • the reopening of maternity and birthing services
  • the provision of more specialist care services (e.g. cancer services, palliative care, renal dialysis and mental health services), and
  • the expansion of the rural generalist program to train doctors in in a wider range of medical expertise.

The government also anticipates that public private partnerships will play an important role in rural and remote areas in the provision of 'better, expanded and more cost-effective healthcare'.

Swain Roberts, Special Counsel, comments: “The physical dimensions and challenges of Queensland’s rural and remote communities place enormous demands on Queensland healthcare services.  The Government is to be congratulated for adopting a pragmatic approach to addressing these needs through a smart mix of technology and infrastructure investment combined with a determination to broaden the skills base of practitioners in the bush to deliver a wider and more sophisticated set of services locally.”