News and op-eds

INQLD - Meeting our regional health challenges

April 21, 2022

In a State with the population spread of Queensland, inequitable health outcomes have long been part of living in regional locations. It’s the genesis of the Royal Flying Doctor Service starting operations in this State.

The introduction of Medicare has helped level the health playing field across Queensland, but the coronavirus pandemic has shone a light into a number of issues in our society, most evident has been the impact of the ongoing attacks and cuts to Medicare by this LNP Government.

Labor created Medicare in 1984 under the then Hawke Government, and we know how important it is to have access to affordable and timely medical care when you need it.

Throughout my travels across regional Queensland, I’ve seen the impact of nearly 10 years of neglect and cuts to healthcare. It’s become harder for people to access doctors or make bulk billing appointments. I’ve heard stories of people having to wait weeks to access doctors or people new to towns struggling to access a doctor because the clinics have closed their books to new patients.

Or in Maryborough where a doctor’s surgery had to close altogether because they just couldn’t access enough doctors to stay open.

To help strengthen and grow Medicare Labor has announced a number of key policies.

Firstly we are making changes to Distribution Priority Areas which will allow more qualified doctors to be recruited to areas with shortages, like in Gladstone which currently has 56 doctors but needs 80 to meet the recommended ratio between GPs and population.

Increasing access to primary healthcare providers will go along way to reducing the strain on the healthcare system to help people seek medical attention earlier instead of waiting and potentially ending up in the emergency department.

To assist with increased access and to reduce strains on emergency departments Labor has committed to funding 50 Medicare Urgent Care clinics. These clinics seek to increase access for families to see a doctor or a nurse when they have an urgent, but not life threatening, need for care like a broken arm or needing stitches, most importantly, these clinics will bulk bill which means people are able to access them without out of pocket costs.

The demand for healthcare workers has continued to skyrocket, Labor has committed to fee free TAFE for industries with critical shortages and more university places this will help to alleviate future skill shortage’s by training more nurses and healthcare workers.

All Australians deserve access to universal, prompt, and world class medical care, and no one deserves to face a multi-year wait for vital treatments simply due to the cost.

Cutting Medicare is in the Liberals’ DNA. You can never trust the Liberals on Medicare.

Labor built Medicare and we will always protect it.

Queensland ALP Senator Anthony Chisholm and his Liberal counterpart Senator James McGrath  will bring an upper-house view to the election campaign every Thursday.

This article was first published in INQLD https://inqld.com.au/party-lines/2022/04/21/anthony-chisholm-meeting-our-regional-health-challenges/

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