What the major parties are promising for the health sector

LABOR is trailing the Greens and the Coalition on policies to improve the health of rural Australians.

After weeks of little acknowledgment during the campaign, all three parties have responded to the Rural Doctors' Association's call for policy details.

While the RDAA did not get everything it wanted from any single party, they have backed some measures from each of them.

Rural Health Minister Fiona Nash's late election pledge for a new Rural Health Commissioner and a promise to go ahead with a "national rural generalist training pathway" has clinched the association's backing.

RDAA president Dr Ewen McPhee said that commitment marked a "turning point" in the Coalition's campaign.

"It demonstrated a clear commitment to rural health and a focus on addressing the workforce issues that we have been flagging as a key problem for a number of years," he said

But the RDAA and many other health groups remain disappointed in the Coalition's plan to continue the Medicare rebate freeze.

Both Labor and the Greens pledged to remove the freeze.

The Greens also promised to work on the RDAA's major election wish of a National Rural Health Plan.

Dr McPhee said Labor's promises to remove the freeze did not go far enough, with no specific rural or regional health measures from the party during the campaign.

"Whichever party wins this weekend, we call on them to roll up their sleeves and get on with the business of fulfilling their promises for the health sector - these initiatives are quite literally of life and death importance," he said.


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