House debates

Thursday, 24 June 2010

Questions without Notice


3:11 pm

Photo of Jon SullivanJon Sullivan (Longman, Australian Labor Party) Share this | | Hansard source

My question is to the Minister for Health and Ageing. How will the government’s health reforms deliver more accessible care? What is the government doing to train more GPs to deliver more primary healthcare investments?

Photo of Nicola RoxonNicola Roxon (Gellibrand, Australian Labor Party, Minister for Health and Ageing) Share this | | Hansard source

I thank the member for Longman for his question. I know that he has been following the health debate with great interest and that constituents in his electorate are already benefiting from the investments of the North Lakes health precinct, particularly those constituents that need renal dialysis. I was asked about the broad range of our health reforms, particularly the investments we are making to train more GPs to deliver more services to working families, particularly the elder, who are big users of health services.

A major part of our health reforms is looking at what we can do in the provision of GP services, whether that is through GP infrastructure, GP training places, rural incentives to make sure that we have enough GPs working in our regional capitals and in the bush, after hours support or making sure that we pay for practice nurses so that they can assist GPs in their work. I am very pleased to advise the House that tomorrow applications will open for GPs to apply for funding of up to half-a-million dollars for more than 400 GP practices across the country to expand their facilities, to employ extra staff and to train the future workforce. We are very excited about this development because it means that our constituents across the country have the opportunity of having enhanced services in their areas. It will make it easier for them to see a GP when they need a GP.

Unfortunately, this investment is opposed by those opposite. We know that the Leader of the Opposition has a bit of an issue when it comes to GPs. He capped their training places when he was the health minister. He has on his budget list already savings that will pull hundreds of millions of dollars out of GP areas. One of the things that he did not do when he was health minister is adjust the rates that were payable to supervisors who are prepared to train GPs. I can also announce that I have just recently provided information to the AMA, the AGPN and the College of GPs to provide an increase of 20 per cent in the funding to support those GPs who want to train young GPs to stay in general practice in the future.

We are very proud of our record. We know that when we commit to training 5,500 GPs over the coming decade that we will need to encourage more of our existing GPs to help train others. That is what this announcement this week will provide for. I hope that the Leader of the Opposition will seriously reconsider the budget cuts that he has flagged, because I am sure that we will be overwhelmed with GPs across the country from electorates on this side of the House and on that side of the House anxiously wanting to apply for these funds, which will expand their services and provide more benefits to families across the country.

Photo of Julia GillardJulia Gillard (Lalor, Australian Labor Party, Deputy Prime Minister) Share this | | Hansard source

Mr Speaker, I ask that further questions be placed on the Notice Paper.