Macquarie community rallies against Abbott's health cuts

Shadow Assistant Minister for Health, Stephen Jones and Labor’s Spokesperson for Macquarie, Susan Templeman today joined representatives from the Blue Mountains GP Network and the NSW Nurses and Midwives Association to discuss the impact the Abbott Government’s ill-conceived GP Tax and increase to the cost of medicines will have on the Blue Mountains community.

Speaking outside the Springwood Medicare office, Stephen Jones said Patients in the Blue Mountains will be slugged twice by the Abbott Government’s GP Tax and PBS price hikes, costing local families over $22 million over the next four years.

The Department of Health’s most recent figures reveal every patient across the region will be on average, $223.17 out of pocket as they are hit for every visit to a GP and every medicine they are prescribed.

“So it’s a double whammy for local patients. They’re whacked when they go to see a doctor and then again when they need to fill their prescriptions. This does not even take into account the extra fees charged for basic services like x-rays, scans or blood tests”, said Jones.

“No wonder the Government’s own backbenchers are calling it a dangerous policy.”

Susan Templeman said, “The GP Tax and medicine price hikes are a clear broken promise, but what’s worse is that they just won’t work.

“Hitting local patients with a tax every time the need to see a doctor, get a test or fill a prescription will only exacerbate inequalities between those who live in major cities and those who do not.”

A report published in 2011 found that patients outside major cities were more likely to be admitted to hospital for conditions that could have been prevented through access to GP non-hospital services and care.

“This will just mean more people queuing for access in local hospitals like Katoomba or Nepean”, said Stephen Jones.

“It’s not like people go to the doctor because they’re bored. They go because they are sick and need the help of a medical professional.

“People in areas like the Blue Mountains make the decision to see a doctor when they’re at their most vulnerable – and now Tony Abbott is wants to tax them for it.

“Susan Templeman and I reject the Abbott Government’s plan to create a two-tiered health system in Australia. It’s unfair, ill-conceived and bad for regional patients.”