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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2009 Week 05 Hansard (Tuesday, 31 March 2009) . . Page.. 1576 ..

The ACT is suffering from a shortage of general practitioners and this, added to the recent closures of several local—

Opposition members interjecting—

MS GALLAGHER: We always know when we hit a raw nerve. The shouts—

Members interjecting—

MS GALLAGHER: Keep going. I love it.

GPs are members of the primary healthcare team who are relied upon for their trusted advice and their ability to help people navigate the healthcare system. The GP task force will consolidate the work already being done by ACT Health and the commonwealth government and will report back to the Legislative Assembly in September.

The task force will be jointly chaired by Ross O’Donoghue, Executive Director of Policy Division, ACT Health and Dr Clare Willington, GP adviser to ACT Health. Other members of the task force are being finalised and include Dr Rashmi Sharma, Board President of the ACT Division of General Practice; Dr Paul Jones from the AMA; Professor Nicholas Glasgow, Dean of the ANU Medical School; Professor Kljakovic, Director, Academic Unit of General Practice and Community Health; Veronica Croome, ACT Chief Nurse and a healthcare consumer representative.

The terms of reference for the GP task force have also been finalised. The task force aims to review and consolidate work already undertaken by the ACT and commonwealth governments on access to primary healthcare services in the ACT; to explore and recommend on legislative options to protect the rights of patients and the health workforce; to advise on workforce demand and training issues in primary health care; to explore and make recommendations on options and innovations to improve access to primary health care in the ACT, including opportunities that may arise in the commonwealth, state and territory health reform agenda and to consider and make recommendations on provisions to improve access to primary care services for vulnerable populations, including the aged, people with mental illness and the isolated.

The task force have a very important job to do here. They will report back to me on what more we can do in order to improve access to primary healthcare services for those who need it most in the community, and I look forward to receiving that advice.

The task force will also review a lot of the work that has been undertaken in the past two years and I have to say that ACT Health, the Division of General Practice and the AMA have been working very hard on this over the last two years—not that the opposition will give them any credit for that. This task force has been arranged in order to pull together all of that work, all of that expertise that is currently being done on pieces of work, and have a look at it, I guess, from a holistic point of view.

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