Page 723 - Week 03 - Tuesday, 26 February 2013

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We are sorry that we have not been able to find new doctors for the practice.

The latest Report on government services shows that we have the lowest number of GPs per capita in Australia. Minister, how are residents of outer suburbs like Spence meant to access GPs when local medical centres continue to close?

MS GALLAGHER: I thank Mr Hanson for the question. It is interesting that Mr Hanson again is having a selective look at the GP landscape at the moment. Yes, there is a closure being foreshadowed for the Scullin medical practice. I understand that that has been owned and operated by husband and wife GPs who have been unable to recruit doctors to that particular practice to assist them. But I would also point out that there have been a number of practices that have opened in the last year. In the last two that I have attended I have not seen other members of the Assembly there, but there are plenty of practices opening in this town and there are also, I think, at least an additional 30 GPs that have started work. If you actually talk to the GPs in this town now, the question has shifted from one of supply to one of quality. They are the issues they are raising with me now.

Members interjecting—

MS GALLAGHER: If I could just finish before you start going on another track, the issue of quality is around concerns from people who have traditionally enjoyed family practice—small family practice models—and are concerned at the rise of the medium to large corporate models which are becoming more prevalent across Australia. We have seen that changing landscape here in the ACT as well.

They are the issues that the Medicare Local will raise with members when they talk about them, but in terms of the support that we have provided to general practice, this government have a very proud record. We had a $12 million GP fund. We are continuing our support for general practice. And if you look around the city you will see a number of GP clinics that have been supported with infrastructure funding from this government to assist them to attract and retain staff.

In relation to the Scullin medical practice, I understand that—

Mr Coe: Spence.

MS GALLAGHER: Sorry, Spence. I understand that patient records are being referred to the west Belconnen co-op practice. Ochre Health are starting their superclinic in Belconnen; they are also going to have an outpost of that one in northern Canberra as part of the spoke and hub model that includes the practice in Calwell, the practice in northern Canberra and the superclinic when it is open.

So, yes, there is still more work to be done in relation to ensuring that we have got more GPs, but part of the answer is also the support that is provided to students to consider life as a general practitioner, and that work is underway in the territory as well.

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