MEDIA RELEASE - Minister for Health silent on GP Access After Hours funding
24 November 2021
Late yesterday I received a very disappointing response from the Minister for Health’s office regarding the cuts to our GP Access After Hours (GPAAH) service.
The Minister couldn’t even be bothered to respond to me personally, opting to palm-off that responsibility to his Chief-of-Staff instead.
Regardless, the Morrison Government has made it abundantly clear that they have zero intention of restoring funding to our GPAAH service, leaving local families hanging out to dry.
This Liberal Government is so clearly caught up in their Canberra bubble that they think the solution to the closure of the GPAAH clinic at the Calvary Mater Hospital is as easy as telling the tens of thousands of people who use the service annually, to just move-on to the next available clinic.
As another “quick-fix”, the letter also directs families to use telehealth services or attend private practices to receive after-hours care instead, with no regard for the constraints and up-front costs of using these services.
Local GP’s are already warning us about the inadequacy of the Medicare rebates to cover the cost of Telehealth. They don’t have any certainty that telehealth is going to continue and that it’s viable in the long-term.
The fact is, the Morrison Government’s refusal to restore the funding to the GPAAH service isn’t affordable for local GPs and it certainly isn’t affordable for Newcastle families.
Indeed, this letter is nothing more than an exercise of pointing fingers. It’s a classic Morrison government move – every problem is someone else’s fault. Every crisis is someone else’s responsibility.
The Morrison Government would rather continue the blame game with the NSW Liberal Government than stop the closure of an essential frontline service.
It’s clear that the Morrison Government has absolutely no clue what it’s like for sick Novocastrians trying to access affordable healthcare, and it’s clear that they have no plan for the 15,000 people who will be impacted by these cuts.
The Minister for Health’s office has not at all addressed the impact this decision will have on our GPs who work tirelessly on the frontline, and he most certainly has not addressed the impact this will have on our already overstretched and under resourced emergency departments.
The Minister for Health should be listening first-hand to local families, GPs, nurses and health professionals on the ground who will have to bear the brunt of the cuts to our GPAAH service.
This pathetic response is nothing more than a slap in the face to the 11,100 people who have signed my petition to say hands-off our GPAAH service.