Liberals promise grant money for doctors

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JEREMY Hanson says that as part of the Canberra Liberals’ plans to make the ACT’s health system the best in the nation, a Canberra Liberals Government will establish a General Practitioners support grant to improve patient access.

“Canberrans wait longer and pay more for GP services than anywhere else in the country, which places extra pressure on our emergency departments. Productivity Commission data this year shows only 58% of Canberra GPs bulk bill compared with national average of 85%,” Jeremy said.

“If elected, we will provide $2.1 million for support grants that GP practices can apply for. There’ll be an emphasis on improving; afterhours care, bulk billing and supporting nurses in general practice.

“This policy is aimed at improving patient access to general practice. GP practices will be encouraged to apply for grants to support:

  • GPs re-entering clinical practice after having a family.
  • Attracting new GPs to the ACT.
  • Employment and training for practice nurses.
  • Expansion of primary health services for older Canberrans.
  • Increasing opening hours of GP surgeries.
  • Providing additional infrastructure for GP surgeries.

“Our GP practices play a huge role in keeping Canberrans healthy. There needs to be additional support to improve access to GP clinics, especially in suburbs where there’s an identified need.

“These grants are part of our comprehensive health plan that includes a $395 million re-development of the Canberra Hospital, two new local public hospitals in Gungahlin and Tuggeranong, as well as new nurses, extra security and public defibrillators,” Mr Hanson concluded.


Labor’s Meegan Fitzharris has been quick to reply:

There are two key flaws in the Canberra Liberals’ health announcement today; the numbers don’t add up and the policy will do nothing to improve bulk billing rates in the ACT.

The Liberal spokesman misleadingly quoted low ACT bulk billing rates as a reason for the policy, when it does absolutely nothing to encourage bulk billing.

This is simply handing out grants to existing surgeries, whether they bulk bill or not – hardly surprising when the Canberra Liberals are such outspoken advocates of GP co-payments.

In stark contrast, Labor’s plan to provide one off capital grants to providers who build or develop three new bulk billing practices will increase access to a bulk billing doctor for the people who need it most. Our plan will help Canberrans access affordable healthcare. The Liberals just want to give cash handouts to a handful of doctors.

The policy doesn’t add up and neither do the numbers.

The amount budgeted would only employ three practice nurses – that’s an exhausting 30 practices for each nurse. That leaves nothing for incentive payments to attract GPs or pay for extended opening hours or deliver infrastructure funding or encourage GPs to re-enter the workforce, which the Liberals claim the policy includes.

Either the Liberals can’t add up or they are deliberately deceiving Canberrans about what they will deliver, just like they’re deceiving the Canberra community about their pretend hospitals. Whichever it is, you can’t trust the Liberals on health.

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