By Pam Kiriakidis
NEXUS Primary Health has joined the battle for greater community health funding, joining as one of 24 registered health services in the Community Health First campaign.
Launched online earlier this month, the campaign is a group response to improve metropolitan, rural and regional health services that deliver primary and community-based care for all Victorians.
Nexus Primary Health chief executive officer Amanda Mullins said the campaign highlighted key issues at Nexus, specifically workforce employment and the cost of delivering services, with the service continuing to compete with metropolitan areas.
“It’s becoming more difficult to be able to deliver the services in a cost-effective manner. Workforce is an issue – being able to attract doctors and nurses and our staff who provide our services,” she said.
“We are getting involved to promote the premise of community health and the importance of location-based services, and Nexus has been a provider of those services for more than 40 years through Mitchell, Murrindindi and Strathbogie shires.
“We’re really keen to be part of the [campaign], so we can continue to offer location-based services, which assist to provide proactive care to people in their own homes and local community to reduce the need for hospitalisation.”
Ms Mullins said the reality for Nexus, and other community health services, was the long waitlists for patients, which was partially due to a lack of employment numbers.
“We unfortunately have waitlists and mental health services are a really good example, we can [only] employ a certain number of people because of the funding that we get,” she said.
“We’re doing the best we can with the resources that we have, if we had more resources, we would have the ability to employ more.”
Among registered health services that were challenged during the pandemic, Ms Mullins said Nexus offered their standard services, however came out ‘a bit fragile’ with limited funding to rebuild in the following years.
“Post COVID we realised we needed to stand up and make sure people can hear that we needed some funding,” she said.
“Some of the funding that was allocated to community health for COVID has been significantly reduced or completely removed.
“We know the hospital system is completely overwhelmed and the money that is going in the budget there was not money for community health.”
Ms Mullins said part of the campaign was highlighting the funding issues to the State Government, and working with local members of parliament, including Member for McEwen Rob Mitchell, Member for Euroa Annabelle Cleeland and Member for Northern Victoria Jaclyn Symes, to ensure Nexus and other registered health services were considered in the health discourse at a parliamentary level.
“We are doing some advocacy work with local members of parliament to promote, to raise awareness, but also to get community health a seat at the table effectively, so that we have a say in where funding goes and how we can contribute to the greater health system,” she said.
Ms Mullins said the plan was for the campaign to grow, with arrangements in place next month to spark conversations among the community and the government for sustainable investment in community health.
She said she hoped the community would back Nexus Health in their advocacy fight.
“It’s always been a given that Nexus will be there to provide services, but we also have a business to run that needs to cover its own costs,” she said.
“It’s really important that we have the community absolutely advocating for us, cheering us on and making sure that we can continue to thrive, to be able to continue to support individuals to live well in their community.”