Wednesday, 23 June 2010
Tonight, I want to talk about the government’s GP superclinic program, and my desire to see one of these established at Caboolture in my electorate of Longman. Firstly, I want to express my disappointment at comments made in one of the local newspapers by my Liberal-National Party opponent for the next election. I had high hopes that the LNP choice of candidate would be a person who would not simply recite party lines parrot fashion, but unfortunately that has not been the case. In particular, he has trotted out the tired old lines being used by the Abbott led coalition to misrepresent the facts about the government’s GP superclinic program.
I will give some basic facts for the benefit of coalition members and candidates, wherever they may be. The 2007 election commitment for GP superclinics was followed through, with funding for the first 31 GP superclinics, later increased to 36—a $223.2 million program over five years from the 2007-08 financial year through to the 2011-12 financial year. Two years into that program three GP superclinics are fully operational and open, and another eight are providing early services. Four more GP superclinics will open shortly, with construction actually underway at 18 new sites. That is 21 GP superclinics that can be expected to be fully operational by the end of this financial year—21 out of the 36 being funded in this five-year commitment. Contracts have been signed for the remaining 15 GP superclinics.
All 36 GP superclinics involve general practices, with general practice networks or divisions being active partners in 13 of them. All 36 GP superclinics will play an active part in teaching the next generation of health professionals, and 33 of them already have university involvement. There is no doubt that all 36 pioneer GP superclinics will be delivered well within the timeframe of the program. It is a nonsense to say that this model has been ‘fundamentally rejected by local practitioners’—a suggestion that I reject out of hand.
During the 2007 election campaign there was no commitment for a GP superclinic in Longman. The government’s health commitment to Longman was for $7 million for a 12-chair dialysis unit at North Lakes. That has been operational for about six months, providing an excellent service to northside renal patients. We did commit to building two GP superclinics in our region: in Strathpine in the electorate of Dickson and Redcliffe in the electorate of Petrie. The Strathpine GP superclinic is fully operational and provides a wide range of services beyond those available at traditional doctors’ surgeries. The GP superclinic at Redcliffe, to be located at the hospital, is one of those currently under construction.
In the 2010 budget the government committed a further $355 million to this program. This money is to be used to enhance the existing program in three ways. First, it will provide for around 23 new GP superclinics. Second, nine of those 23 will be enhanced and able to provide day-surgery procedures. Third, around 425 existing GP practices will be able to access funding to upgrade those practices to provide additional services to their communities.
This additional funding provides an opportunity for us to improve primary healthcare services in our area. I have already spoken to health minister Roxon regarding the siting of one of those nine enhanced GP superclinics at Caboolture to ease pressure on the Caboolture Hospital. I have also spoken to a number of potential partners to gauge their interest in being involved in such a project, and I am delighted to say that I have been greeted with unbridled enthusiasm.