Nationals leader Mark Vaile urged the commonwealth to consider alloting specific funds for regional and rural hospitals , a function currently under the jurisdiction of the state governments .
At the National New South Wales state conference, he said that , the measure was essential due to the inadequate health care available for rural Australians, in comparison to their city counterparts.
Mr Vaile intends to put forth the proposal to federal Health Minister Tony Abbott in order to be able to raise it at the next round of discussions for Australian Health Care Agreements with the states, scheduled to start soon.
Small rural hospitals providing maternity care would especially benefit by his proposal, Mr Vaile believes.
"Under the proposal, the government could require the states to direct payments specifically to those hospitals, and give expectant mothers the security and comfort of going to a hospital that is close to their family and friends" he said.
Mr Vaile charged that the NSW public health system has given way under the state Labor government.
"In 2004-05, more than one in five NSW patients waited more than a year for cataract removal surgery," he said. "A third of patients waited more than a year for total knee replacement surgery"."If you have prostate or cervical cancer and live in a remote area of NSW, you are three times more likely to die than someone with the same disease in Sydney," he said.