Labor have not yet confirmed whether their election promise to implement at least 50 Medicare urgent care clinics will be implemented in regional Australia.
Shadow Assistant Minister for Regional Development and Federal Member for Mallee Anne Webster said the government have failed to provide any assurances that the clinics will be in regional locations.
“Regional health care delivery must be a priority for the Albanese Government. While their commitment to urgent care clinics is laudable, the question that must be answered is whether the government will look beyond the regional centres in Victoria of Bendigo and Ballarat,” Dr Webster said.
“The government have a real opportunity to target the health inequity of regional and rural Australians, which are acutely felt here in Mallee.
“An urgent care clinic is far less effective when you have to travel hundreds of kilometres to reach it.
“These clinics are designed to decrease pressure on hospitals. If they are situated hours away, the impact on local hospitals in the country will be almost zero.
“The Labor government has promised they will make it easier for Australians to see a doctor. This is a welcome commitment, but those who live in regional areas will judge by the outcomes not the words.
“I will continue to highlight this issue and continue to work with the government on policy and strategies to ensure that the regional healthcare disadvantage is alleviated.
“Under the Coalition federal funding for public hospitals doubled – from $13.3 billion under Labor (in 2012-13) to $27.2 billion (in 2022-23). The Medicare GP bulk billing rate last year (12 months to June 2021) was 88.8%, up from 82.2% in Labor’s last year (2012-13).
“I will be watching this data moving forwards.”