Page 3078 - Week 08 - Thursday, 7 August 2008
member. I also have an email from another patient who is recovering from having a brain tumour removed. He is now quite concerned about his continuity of care with his regular GP. Health is a very personal matter, and losing relationships built up over many years is not a small thing. Most people want that personal connection—a doctor who knows their medical history and that of their family. People do not want a generic drive-through style of health care.
We have had the minister talking to us about walk-in clinics, which the community do not believe will in any way be a substitute for GPs. In fact, I understand that these places will not have professionals who are able to prescribe medication. I know the Wanniassa clinic was always busy, and it often took two to three days to get an appointment. I understand that Primary Health Care has made a business decision, but I also note from its 2007 annual report that it had a 15.9 per cent increase in revenue to $280.4 million.
Indeed, one of the questions that was put to me today by yet another caller was about whether Primary Health Care have placed wealth over health and whether they have gone too far this time. An inquiry will allow us to question Primary Health Care as to how they view their role in the Canberra community both in the short term in relation to the closing of Wanniassa and, of course, in the longer term.
I appreciate the fact, and thank members for it, that we have tripartisan support on this matter. The government always claims credit when a practice expands, such as the Ainslie one where Mr Corbell launched the expanded practice last week. What I and around 60,000 patients of the Wanniassa medical practice would like to know is when and whether the government, particularly the health minister, had discussions with Primary Health Care, given its significance to the provision of GPs in this city. When was the last time she talked to them? Has she ever questioned Primary Health Care about their long-terms goals and their plans for the delivery of health services in the ACT? They are all reasonable questions, I would have thought.
I really find it very hard to countenance that the minister did not know that the practice was going to close. If that is not the case, that shows me how out of touch she is. I for one certainly would have been talking with them and liaising with all those people providing such an important and critical service to the people of the ACT. The minister alluded to something she might do or try to do, but I think she really needs to start to think about what she will do to address the situation where nearly 60,000 people find themselves without ready access to their GPs whom they have seen for many years. Again, these walk-in clinics that have been talked about will be no replacement for the continuity of care a regular GP can offer.
There is a question mark about parking at the Phillip clinic, where there is already not enough parking spaces to satisfy patient demand. The thousands of patients being transferred to Phillip will now be vying for just 44 parking spots. I understand there will be an increased number of GPs based at Phillip, and parking could pose significant problems.
My motion asks for an inquiry by the Standing Committee on Health and Disability to report by 26 August. I realise this is a quick turnaround, but this is an urgent matter. It is a matter about which the government simply threw up their hands and said, “Well,