Medicare

Today I rise to speak on the member for Hawke's motion relating to Medicare urgent care clinics. I find the level of self-congratulation quite extraordinary in relation to this motion and other motions in the health space put forward by Labor government members. Towards the end of the 2022 election campaign, the now Minister for Indigenous Australians made her way into my electorate of Lindsay and made an announcement at Nepean Hospital with the Labor candidate, saying that, if the Labor Party won office, Lindsay would have its own Medicare urgent care clinic. We are more than a year beyond the commitment, and yet there is no clinic open for residents from Emu Plains to Colyton and Londonderry to Luddenham. Right across my electorate of Lindsay, we do not have this urgent care clinic. Rather, we have seen this Labor government commit to a time line which has already been broken.

We were told the urgent care clinics would be operational in the first year of the Albanese government. In fact, the Minister for Finance, Senator Gallagher, when probed by the shadow health minister, Senator Ruston, in Senate estimates told the committee that in November last year they were still working towards the 12-month deadline. Further down the track, the Minister for Health and Aged Care, the member for Hindmarsh, told Australians, on the ABC's Insiders, that 50 clinics would be up and running by the end of the last financial year.

Some urgent care clinics have opened in Victoria. The state government's priority primary care clinics were taken over by the Albanese government and rebadged as a Medicare urgent care clinic. The minister, today, in a media release, said Westmead, which is in Western Sydney, was getting a Medicare urgent care clinic, but the clinic is actually in Wentworthville and not at the Westmead health education and innovation precinct, which would have been an ideal location. Of course, the clinic is being delivered in the Labor member for Parramatta's electorate more quickly than other areas of Western Sydney.

My community was promised this commitment. We know from the New South Wales Bureau of Health Information statistics that the emergency department at Nepean Hospital is struggling and needs support. This motion says that 58 clinics will take pressure off emergency departments. Well, Lindsay is waiting, and we're sick and tired of excuses from the Labor government on its commitments to our community. The Nepean Blue Mountains Primary Health Network's website has been updated very recently to say that Lindsay would have an urgent care clinic in Penrith. Well, it's actually going to be located in Jamisontown.

I thank the GP service for their assistance in running the service. However, I am disappointed that the Labor government misled our community that the Medicare urgent care clinic would be co-located at Nepean Hospital. A co-location at the growing health precinct surrounding Nepean Hospital would have been fantastic, and this is a missed opportunity. Not only that, but the Minister for Indigenous Australians stood out the front of Nepean Hospital with the Labor candidate to get votes during the election campaign. Local families thinking about taking their kids to the clinic will think twice about whether to drive to Jamisontown or to drive straight to Nepean Hospital in Kingswood.

On another note, the GP shortage is impacting Lindsay, and community members are rightly asking how the urgent care clinic will impact access to GPs when they're working at the clinic. The Minister for Health and Aged Care recently changed regional arrangements for GP classifications to be closer to cities, noting the help that outer urban areas need with health workforce shortages. The minister is still refusing to answer questions around the staffing of the urgent care clinics, and, due to this and other issues, the Department of Health and Aged Care noted in a recent budget estimates hearing that in many cases the clinics will not be able to provide the extended opening hours of care that the Labor government committed to at the 2022 election. I'd like to know the opening hours of the Lindsay clinic because my community doesn't know yet. Will they be short hours, or will they be the hours that were promised by the Labor government? Again, this just seems like another broken promise.

We've seen cuts to Medicare funded psychology sessions; community pharmacies are facing closures and job losses due to 60-day prescriptions; fast-acting insulin, Fiasp, is being removed from the PBS; and now there are delays to the promised delivery of the Medicare urgent care clinics. Lindsay and Australia need better from this Labor government.

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