MEDIA RELEASE: Key Milestone Reached to Restore GP Access After Hours
04 April 2023
THE HON MARK BUTLER MP
MINISTER FOR HEALTH AND AGED CARE
THE HON PAT CONROY MP
MEMBER FOR SHORTLAND
MINISTER FOR DEFENCE INDUSTRY
MINISTER FOR INTERNATIONAL DEVELOPMENT AND THE PACIFIC
SHARON CLAYDON MP
MEMBER FOR NEWCASTLE
MERYL SWANSON MP
MEMBER FOR PATERSON
DAN REPACHOLI MP
MEMBER FOR HUNTER
Patients in the Hunter region are a step closer to getting better after hours health care, with an agreement reached with the local Primary Health Network (PHN).
The Albanese Government is providing approximately $5.5 million per annum over four years to the Hunter New England Central Coast PHN to commission Hunter Primary Care to restore after hours services at four GP Access clinics and reopen the Calvary Mater Clinic.
The Former Liberal Government failed to fund the GP Access services, forcing the GP Access clinic at the Calvary Mater Hospital to close permanently and four other clinics to significantly reduce their hours from Christmas Eve 2021.
Delivering on an election commitment, the funding means people in the region will find it easier to see a GP or nurse after hours and reduce pressure on local emergency departments.
With funding for the services due to lapse on 1 July, the agreement also gives certainty to patients and healthcare professionals.
GP Access clinics offer face to face and telehealth primary care services outside business hours. These services are bulk billed to anyone with a Medicare card, and delivered by GPs and Registered Nurses.
The funding will allow the clinics at Belmont Hospital, John Hunter Hospital, Maitland Hospital and Toronto Polyclinic to restore their operational hours, which had been reduced on weekends, public holidays and nights. It will also enable a fifth clinic in Newcastle to be reopened in May 2023, using space at the Calvary Mater Hospital.
GP Access After Hours clinics are open when most general practices are closed, including weeknights (from 6pm), weekends (Saturday from 1pm, Sunday from 9am), and public holidays (24 hours).
Quotes attributable to Minister Butler:
“After the Liberals cut the funding to GP Access After Hours the Albanese Government moved quickly to restore and expand after hours health care for people who live across the Hunter.
“It means people of all ages, families and children can get top quality care from GPs and nurses outside of standard business hours.
“Services are free and all patients need is their Medicare card.
“The benefits are many – patients get ready access to care after hours and the demand on local emergency departments is reduced.”
Quotes attributable to Minister Conroy:
“The Albanese Government is delivering on its commitments to Lake Macquarie by restoring this unique and vital service.
“Restoring these hours will take pressure off our overcrowded emergency departments during their busiest times.”
“There are very few people in our region who have not used the services of the GP Access After Hours.”
Quotes attributable to Sharon Claydon MP:
“The Albanese Labor Government is making good on our commitment to the people of Newcastle.”
“I hear from Novocastrians every week about how hard it is to see their doctor. The former Liberal Government’s cuts and 6-year freeze to Medicare rebates has created a crisis in general practice.”
“Restoring hours at John Hunter Hospital and reopening the clinic at the Calvary Mater Hospital will help ease some of this burden.”
Quotes attributable to Dan Repacholi MP
“I have seen and heard the horror stories of people waiting days and even weeks to be able to get into see their GP.
“The restoration of the opening hours of the GP Access After Hours Service in Toronto, will mean residents can see a doctor while they are sick, and will reduce our overcrowded Emergency Departments.
“This change will mean residents in Cessnock, Lake Macquarie, Morisset, Cooranbong, Toronto, and right across the Hunter electorate, will have access to quality care and will mean a reduction in Hospital waiting times.”
Quotes attributable to Meryl Swanson
“Our Government is delivering on our election commitments to the region by restoring vital health services.
“I'm delighted that the people of Paterson and, indeed, the wider Hunter will see these critical services restored.
“Our Government is taking a practical and common sense approach to improving critical Healthcare for the region.”