National proposes mobile health clinic for rural communities

A mobile rural health clinic would travel to remote rural areas to provide a 'WOF' type health check-up, under a proposal from the National Party.

The idea is included in the party's just-released primary sector discussion document, which outlines a series of ideas and proposals for the rural sector.

A recent study highlighted the continuing decline in GP numbers in rural areas, finding a large number of unfilled vacancies and a retirement boom among rural doctors.

National's Rural Communities spokesperson Matt King said introducing a mobile health clinic would ensure people in rural communities have easy access to quality healthcare.

"More than 600,000 New Zealanders live in rural communities, and while it's accepted not everyone in rural New Zealand can live next to a hospital, it's important they have access to modern healthcare," he said.

Matt King (right) at Fieldays at Mystery Creek, near Hamilton.
Matt King (right) at Fieldays at Mystery Creek, near Hamilton. Photo credit: Facebook/Matt King

Under the pilot scheme, mobile rural health clinics serviced by health practitioners would travel to remote rural communities on a regular basis, where they would provide general health check-ups and mental health support for locals.

"This initiative will make a tangible difference to those in isolated areas who too often simply ignore potential health warning signs because of their busy lifestyles and the lack of convenience," said King.

Plans for a School of Rural Medicine were scrapped last year, with the Government announcing a range of alternative measures to address the shortage of health workers in the rural sector.

Last month the Minister of Health also announced his support for the establishment of a network of hubs within rural communities to train medical professionals.