Labor’s Rural and Regional Health Spokesperson, Stephen Jones, has called on Tony Abbott to focus on the health of the Australians living outside the major cities rather than just the health of his terminal leadership.
Today, Tony Abbott tried to convince the Australian public that the GP tax was off the table in order to save his grip on the Prime Ministership. However, the truth is that Tony Abbott has only temporarily halted his ideological attack on Medicare.
The Government must start listening to people outside of metropolitan areas and recognise that attacking primary care and discouraging people from visiting their local GP is not the answer.
Rather, the Government should be pursuing policies to recruit doctors to regional areas and improve rural health services
People in rural and regional Australia already suffer from poorer health outcomes, including high rates of chronic disease. They have inferior access to services and bulk billing rates are lower in the bush.
Many rural medical practices 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.
It has been over three weeks since the Rural Doctors Association of Australia appealed for the Abbott Government to hit the reset button on healthcare outcomes in rural and regional Australia. But nothing has happened; health professionals and patients outside of the nation’s cities continue to be ignored.
Labor’s demands are clear - 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.