MEDIA RELEASE - Over 10,500 people sign petition to save GP Access After Hours Service
18 November 2021
In the lead up to Parliament sitting next week, the Hunter region’s Labor MPs, Sharon Claydon, Pat Conroy, Joel Fitzgibbon and Meryl Swanson, and Labor’s candidate for the Hunter, Daniel Repacholi will be at the Westlakes Community Health Centre in Toronto tomorrow to present the Save Our GP Access After Hours (GPAAH) Service petition.
From Christmas Eve, the GPAAH Calvary Mater clinic will close completely and operating hours for clinics at the Belmont Hospital, John Hunter Hospital, Maitland Hospital, and Westlakes Community Health Centre will be reduced.
Over 10,500 people from the Hunter region have signed our petition calling on the Morrison-Joyce Government to stop the cuts and restore our GPAAH Service to its full operations immediately.
For more than 20 years, the GPAAH Service has provided over a million urgent after-hours consultations to families in the Hunter region.
GPAAH delivers more than 50,000 face-to-face appointments and handles over 70,000 calls through the nurse-led triage call centre every year.
The GPAAH Service saves our health system up to $21.7 million in unnecessary emergency department presentations each year. It takes the pressure off our already overstretched and under resourced public hospital emergency departments.
This service has been essential for the tens of thousands of local families who rely upon bulk-billing GP services to access the healthcare they need, when they need it.
With so few bulk-billing GPs in the Lower Hunter region, any further loss of services will have a huge impact on families already faced with high out-of-pocket healthcare costs.
It’s unconscionable that the Morrison-Joyce Government thinks it’s a good idea to cut access to primary healthcare, especially during a global pandemic.
But this is not a one-off. Coalition Governments have a long history of cuts to bulk-billing incentives and freezing Medicare rebates, undermining our universal healthcare system time and time again.
They are also responsible for reclassifying parts of the Hunter from being a ‘district of workforce shortage’ area to a metropolitan area which has resulted in a shortage of doctors in our region, and earlier this year they snuck in almost 1,000 changes to the Medicare Benefits Schedule.
Labor will be taking this petition to Parliament next week.
Labor created Medicare and we will always fight to protect universal healthcare in our region.