Page 1942 - Week 06 - Thursday, 9 June 2022

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DR PATERSON: Minister, how will the Albanese Labor government’s commitments to deliver better access to general practice and primary care support the ACT health system?

MS STEPHEN-SMITH: I thank Dr Paterson for the supplementary. As I outlined in my previous answer, the ACT and, indeed, Australians have weathered a decade of cuts and neglect by the former Liberal government, severely impacting Canberrans’ ability to see a GP when they need to.

These cuts have led to people delaying seeing a doctor. We know that from Australian Institute of Health and Welfare data. This impacts people’s health. They delayed purchasing medicines because PBS prices were too high, leaving illness and chronic disease until their only option was the public hospital system. I do not for one second want to ignore the unbelievable dedication and skill that our GPs across the ACT deliver. They know that there are better times ahead for them, with the Albanese Labor government’s commitment to invest $750 million to deliver the outcomes of the Strengthening Medicare Taskforce.

That is $750 million from the Albanese Labor government to deliver a strategy that the former minister, Minister Hunt, delivered but never put any funding behind. One of Minister Hunt’s favourite approaches was to make a big bang announcement about a strategy and then move on to the next thing. Sounds familiar. Former Prime Minister Morrison also had that approach to things.

Opposition members interjecting—


MS STEPHEN-SMITH: The focus on better management of chronic disease, improved access to GP-led multidisciplinary teams and greater affordability will integrate well with the work the ACT government is doing. This work will shift the management of complex care into the community, where our health system can support and work with people with individual GP teams to deliver better outcomes, better care, closer to home. The reduction in the cost per pharmacy script by $12.50, from $42.50 to $30, will also go a long way in helping people with the cost of living and reduce the number of people delaying purchasing medicines.

MR PETTERSSON: Minister, given the federal Labor government’s commitment to strengthening Medicare and improving healthcare delivery across Australia, how else will the ACT benefit from this new focus and prioritisation?

Mr Parton: Great question, Michael. Great question! Well done!

MS STEPHEN-SMITH: I agree. Great question, Mr Pettersson. Thank you very much. We also welcome the commitment to deliver a Medicare urgent care clinic to Canberra’s south side. This clinic will relieve pressure on our emergency departments and deliver bulk-billed care to those needing urgent care and after hours care, complementing our network of walk-in centres.

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