Regional Victoria is lagging the rest of the country in primary and community health services, according to the latest data from the Productivity Commission’s annual ‘Report on Government Services’.
The report exposed that Victoria falls short of national averages in both inner and outer regional areas for various critical health professionals per capita, including chiropractors, Indigenous health practitioners, and medical radiation practitioners.
Shadow Parliamentary Secretary for Health, Annabelle Cleeland, described the shortage of practitioners in regional areas as a significant obstacle to improving health outcomes.
“These statistics are a wake-up call for the government’s neglect of regional healthcare,” Ms Cleeland said.
The report also revealed regional areas are facing a scarcity of dentists and allied dental practitioners, with waitlists for public dental services estimated to be nearly two years in some regions.
The Member for Euroa emphasized the importance of primary and community health services in early intervention, warning that the lack of investment would lead to deferred care and an increase in emergency department presentations.
“The shortage of psychologists in regional areas, especially given the recent flooding and mental health impacts of the pandemic, is of major concern,” she said.
“Families in Seymour and across the North-East and Hume region are struggling to access mental health support, and this is heartbreaking.”
Ms Cleeland called for a multi-layered solution to address the shortage of health workers in regional areas.
“Our regional economies need to be attractive places for health workers. This means affordable housing, accessible childcare, and a massive increase in infrastructure investment,” she said.
“All these issues are interconnected. The government needs to end its neglect of our region and understand the dire consequences of its lack of investment.”