Access to Care for Country Residents Policy

Applicable to: This policy is applicable to East Metropolitan Health Service, North Metropolitan Health Service, South Metropolitan Health Service and WA Country Health Service.

Description: The WA health system is accountable for ensuring public health services are available to all residents regardless of where they live.

The WA country population is diverse and expansive and as a result has widely varying health needs. People living in regional, rural and remote areas often experience poorer general health than those in metropolitan areas and Aboriginal health and life expectancy in particular is significantly less than that of non-Aboriginal people.

Country residents may not be able to access all the public health services they require in their local communities. Specialist emergency, inpatient and outpatient services may only be provided by metropolitan and country Health Service Providers (HSPs) distant from where they live. Country residents receive these services by travelling to metropolitan and regional areas for face-to-face care; from specialists visiting their local communities; and / or via virtual care.

This policy sets out the requirements for HSPs in respect to providing appropriate public health services to country residents when and where they are needed and with minimal financial and access hardship. The application of this policy demonstrates the shared responsibility and accountability of HSPs for country residents.

This policy is a mandatory requirement for HSPs under the Clinical Services Planning and Programs Policy Framework pursuant to section 26(2)(a)(b)(c) of the Health Services Act 2016.

Date of effect: 18 April 2024

Policy Framework

Supporting information