Abbott Government leaves rural doctors in dark on health policy

Rural and regional doctors have today condemned the Abbott Government’s $52.5 million infrastructure grant for rural and regional GP practices as vastly inadequate, saying they were not consulted during the creation of the program or advised on its implementation.

Rural Doctor’s Association WA president, Mike Eaton said the Abbott Government should have sought more feedback when designing the scheme as many of the neediest areas in rural and regional Australia would need considerably more than the $300,000 on offer to expand their practice.

“The biggest health issue we face in regional Australia is access to GP and specialist services”, said Stephen Jones.

“I welcome any investment in regional health but this is not an honest plan. A paltry $52.5 million grant for 175 practices will do nothing to improve health outcomes in regional Australia.

“The funding announced by the Government is a cruel ruse, requiring a huge contribution on behalf of the practice to see any building or expansion actually carried out.

“The Coalition just don’t get it. The Abbott government’s GP Tax will cripple regional GP practices, ultimately forcing many to close.

“This grant is nothing more than a fig-leaf to detract from the billions the Abbott Government is ripping out of health right across the country.”

By comparison, in 2010-11 Labor invested $117 million in Primary Infrastructure Grants to upgrade around 425 general practices, primary care and community health services, and Aboriginal Medical Services.

“The Abbott Government is not serious about improving the health of rural and regional Australians. It’s just not on their agenda”, said Jones.

“They’ve shown it time and time again, in their refusal to consult with rural GPs on key health policies, their refusal to consult with the Minister in charge of regional health in the creation of the GP Tax, and in their refusal to do any modelling to find out just how their cuts impact the health rural and regional Australians.