Tuesday, 28 November 2023
Lyons Electorate: Health Care, Medicare
Improving access to quality health care in Lyons has been a core issue for me since my election in 2016. That's why I'm so pleased to report to the House that construction of a new GP clinic, in the Brighton municipality in the south of my electorate, is well underway.
I promised at the 2022 election to deliver this clinic and I'm keeping that promise. The $1.6 million of Australian government funding has been vital to secure this much-needed medical service for the fast-growing Brighton community. Sited next to the wonderful Brighton Bowls and Community Club, the new GP clinic is on course to open in mid next year, and, like the community, I'm looking forward to the doors opening and medical services getting underway.
While I'm on the topic of health, I'd like to report to the House that the Australian government played a pivotal role in retaining GP services in Bridgewater, which is nearby Brighton. When the operators of the Greenpoint Medical Services announced they would close their clinic in December, it understandably sent shockwaves throughout Bridgewater. Many of the 8,000 people on the clinic's books, including the elderly and many suffering from chronic health conditions, feared they would be unable to secure alternative medical services. When I relayed news of the impending closure to the office of the Minister for Health and Aged Care, Mark Butler, no stone was left unturned to help find a solution. Officials were dispatched, and many phone calls were made to a range of stakeholders to find an alternative provider of medical services.
A few weeks ago, all the hard work paid off, with Your Hobart Doctor announcing it was taking over the business. Your Hobart Doctor is a well-credentialled provider of health services in the south of Tasmania and runs the federally funded urgent care clinic in Hobart's Bathurst Street. I'd like to thank officials, as well as the federally funded HR+ Tasmania—the Tasmanian branch of the Rural Workforce Agency—and Primary Health Tasmania for their important work. Minister Butler's office provided invaluable assistance, and we now look forward to a smooth transition to the new owners in early December and a rebranding from Greenpoint Medical Services to Jordan River Medical Services. The new owners are hopeful of providing more services and staff and extended hours, which will be terrific for this community.
Losing this clinic was never an acceptable option for me or the Bridgewater community that I represent. When some outside the community shrugged their shoulders and said that patients might just have to change their doctor, I said that was not acceptable and Bridgewater must not lose its access to primary health services full stop. I'd like to congratulate local mum Melissa Tyrrell for her hard work as a community campaigner and for bringing people together to keep this service. Melissa never got angry, but she was always determined. And I'll also give a shout-out to my state Labor colleague Jen Butler—no relation to Mark—for her tireless advocacy and for holding Tasmania's Liberal health minister to account. The retention of this service is a victory first and foremost for the people of Bridgewater. They can be rightly proud of the role they played in ensuring this service stayed in the community, where it belongs.
As well as some local wins in the area of health, the Albanese Labor government has made the largest investment in bulk billing in the 40-year history of Medicare—taking effect on 1 November—with the tripling of the bulk-billing incentive for local GPs. Bulk billing is the beating heart of Medicare, and, after nine years of cuts and neglect by the former government, bulk-billing rates have declined sharply and it's never been harder or more expensive for Australians to see a GP. Now children, seniors and Australians with a concession card will find it easier to find a bulk-billing doctor. Labor's cheaper medicines policy has saved patients on average $12 per script on the 36,000 60-day scripts dispensed in my electorate from January to August this year. And, of course, the 60-day scripts came in in a staggered way in September, and they'll be rolling out further later on.
That's over $400,000 that's been returned to my constituents. By the end of the year, Tasmania will have a fourth Medicare urgent care clinic. It will open in Devonport, allowing patients in the north-west of the state to seek urgent medical attention for non-life-threatening situations that might not warrant a visit to the emergency department. And a visit to an urgent care clinic is all on the Medicare card. You don't need a credit card, and there are no fees; it's all bulk billed. This clinic in Devonport will ease the pressure on the Mersey Community Hospital, just as the one in Launceston is easing the pressure on the LGH and as the two in Hobart are having an impact on the Royal Hobart Hospital's overworked emergency department.
This is just the start. As the Tasmanian Liberal minority government struggles to manage and support its hospitals, Labor's federally funded urgent care clinics are already proving themselves and relieving the strain. I've got to say that I hope to see one of these urgent care clinics in my electorate. I make no make no bones about that. I'm very happy to go out there and push for it, as I have been. These urgent care clinics have been a raging success as they've rolled out across the country. I know that money is always limited and that every MP will have their hand up for one of these, but I think my Lyons community deserves an urgent care clinic, and I'm out there fighting to have one in Lyons.
The Albanese government is committed to improving health care for all Australians whether they live in the cities or in the regions. I'll end on this note. Labor built Medicare. We are proud of Medicare, and only Labor will protect Medicare.
The time for the grievance debate has expired. The debate is interrupted in accordance with standing order 192B. The debate is adjourned and the resumption of the debate will be made an order of the day for the next sitting.
Federation Chamber adjourned at 19 : 31