Labor’s Rural and Regional Health Spokesperson, Stephen Jones, has warned that this year’s federal Budget is unlikely to lead to improved health outcomes in the bush.
One year after delivering a budget of broken promises in 2014, the Abbott Government’s next Budget is all about political manoeuvring, not the public interest.
Make no mistake, the 2015 version will be all about saving Tony Abbott’s job and nothing else.
Health experts all agree -the health disparities that affect people living outside of our major cities need to be addressed.
The Centre for International Economics has said that people living in the bush visit their GP half as often and die on average two years earlier than city residents.
Mental health services are also lacking. The report of the National Review of Mental Health Programmes and Services warned that reliance on mental health services increases by remoteness but that the services just aren’t there.
Yet instead of listening to the experts Tony Abbott has launched repeated attacks on Medicare and undermined primary care services. It is people living in remote, rural and regional areas who have disproportionately suffered as a result.
Tony Abbott’s dreaded GP Tax I, GP Tax II, GP Tax III and GP Tax IV as well as his plan to freeze Medicare rebates until 2018 have been loudly criticised by rural health experts.
Many medical practices in the bush that represent struggling communities are operating on tight margins and struggle to meet demand.
As a result of these shortcomings people in rural areas are more likely to be admitted to hospital for problems that could have been prevented through other services such as their local GP. This will be disastrous in the long run because it costs much less for health problems to be dealt with by a GP compared to a hospital.
In the bush primary care workers are often at the frontline of mental health yet it is our GPs who have been repeatedly targeted by Tony Abbott’s cruel cuts.
The last Budget was a disaster for health professionals living in the bush and the people they care for. Unfortunately the Government is too busy taking care of its own internal political ructions to turn its attention to improving health outcomes outside of our major cities.
Labor’s demands remain unchanged - we want the Government to listen to rural health experts, promise that they will keep their hands off Medicare and outline what they are going to do to improve healthcare in the bush.