Medicare Locals Must Stay

medicine.jpgLast year Labor expanded health services in the region by establishing the Illawarra Shoalhaven Medicare Local.

They employ 37 front line health workers and provide services in the crucial areas of mental health and the management of chronic diseases.

Tony Abbott plans to scrap the 61 Medicare Locals around the country, which were set up by Labor to fill critical gaps in primary health care.

Our Medicare Local operates the two Headspace locations in the region, which help young people with mental health and alcohol and drug issues.

They run the Perinatal Mental Health Team, which supports local parents suffering from anxiety and post-natal depression.

They also take an organisational approach, working with other community health services to manage and prevent chronic diseases like diabetes.

The Illawarra Mercury reported figures just last week showing our region is ground zero for diabetes, with the instance of sufferers in Wollongong (6.4 per cent) and Shellharbour (6.6 per cent) well above the national average of 5.6 per cent.

The Coalition’s plan to axe these services will leave local patients worse off.

In the Howard years, when Tony Abbott was Health Minister, $1 billion was ripped out of public hospitals and bulk billing was at an all-time low of just 67 per cent. This is compared to the almost 92 per cent people have here in the Illawarra under Labor.

Mr Abbott  is opposed to Medicare Locals. Mr Abbott  is opposed to GP Super Clinics and upgrades to over 400 local GP surgeries.

The question to Mr Abbott’s candidates in the Illawarra is simple.

Will they stand up for the 37 front line health workers and the people of the Illawarra, or do they support the negative plan to axe our local, reliable and affordable health care services?