The Christmas Health Crisis

For many, the holiday season is filled with festivity, family, and feasts.

Sadly, for some this Christmas may mean a hospital stay hundreds of kilometres from their loved ones.

With an increasing scarcity of rural doctors, those in remote communities are forced to travel to larger centres. Visiting doctors have also been helping close the gap in healthcare access for rural towns.  However,  at Christmas, the availability of visiting doctors is further reduced as they spend the holiday season at home with family and friends. 

Unfortunately, disease and illness do not have an ‘off-switch’. Access to healthcare is needed year-round. 

Shops  may close on public holidays, but hospitals don’t. Many of us will be spending Boxing Day hopping from store to store in search of the best bargains.  Unlike store shelves, hospitals will not be emptying. 

Rural towns, struggle to retain medical staff , let alone in the holiday season. It is important to remember that the rural doctor shortage is not merely a ‘Christmas Challenge’, but an ongoing crisis that requires immediate attention and action.

With travel, accommodation, food and work absence costs, rural patients who travel to larger centres for care often find themselves under enormous financial strain. Though the government recognises the cost via the provision of the Patient Travel Subsidy Scheme (PTSS), the subsidies provided are generally inadequate in relieving much of the financial strain, especially for patients from lower socioeconomic backgrounds.

This holiday season, embody the Christmas spirit and consider gifting a donation to Rural Doctors Foundation to fund the provision of health services to rural areas, minimising the need for patient travel.

Also, don’t forget to express your gratitude for the extensive efforts put in by doctors across the country, working tirelessly through the holiday season.