Page 3574 - Week 10 - Tuesday, 26 August 2008

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We need to take a look at what is happening with the corporatisation of medical services, as it is happening across Australia. I believe it is getting a real gee up in New South Wales. I will talk about that a little later. Like Ms MacDonald, I want to thank everyone who contributed and for all the submissions we received. I thank the minister and others who appeared before the committee. I thank the committee members, and special thanks go to Grace Concannon, who I know struggled through the latter days not feeling too well. So I thank Grace for that, and I thank the other committee members.

The report outlines six identified areas which the government, in the next Assembly, can look at. The first recommendation relates to provisions in crown leases in order to protect community interests. The current situation is that the lease on the Wanniassa premises will be held until 2012. The conditions of that lease would prohibit a practice from being established by anybody other than Primary Health Care. I have had more recent correspondence from them which I have not had a chance to read, unfortunately. That was one of the main recommendations.

There are five other recommendations. The second refers to working with the ACT Division of General Practice to collect data regarding GP workforce issues. It is a bit sad in that we seem somehow to have dropped the ball in terms of what is a very robust network. With respect to the costs of running and establishing a business, as well as issues at a federal level, in terms of the Medicare rebate, all of those things impact on GPs, and corporatisation and takeovers have been seen as some sort of rescue package. Whilst there are some benefits attached to that, we have often seen unintended consequences.

There is a recommendation relating to transport issues which have arisen as a result of that corporatisation and the unintended pressures that have been placed on the community. For example, from Wanniassa, patients who do not drive can get a bus only once every hour. If we change a service over here and then something else changes, that puts undue pressure on people. I have had several emails—and presumably other members have as well—from people who say that it is a three-hour trip to the doctor, whereas once they could just get a friend to drive them there or they could manage to walk that far. They are the unintended consequences.

We also need to make sure that people like Primary Health Care abide by lease arrangements regarding parking. I do not believe we have yet seen the full effect of the number of patients currently registered with the Wanniassa medical centre and now appearing at Phillip. I am sure a future government will be very happy to monitor that situation, as there have to be a certain number of parking spaces per GP.

We know that Phillip is becoming busier. We had representations from a business there raising those concerns. There are varying responses to this: “Well, it’s not busy,” “Yes, it is busy.” I have been to the site, as have others, and we have checked for ourselves. As I said, the proof and the full impact will be when patients fully transfer over to the Phillip medical centre.

We looked at accessing medical records. We need to ramp up our discussions with the Australian government with a view to exploring better ways in which patients can be

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