Yesterday marked one year since the Albanese Labor Government was elected, but so far all we have seen for health and aged care is broken promises and headline announcements that they can’t deliver.
Labor promised they would have 50 Urgent Care Clinics up and running within their first 12 months, but so far they have not delivered a single promised clinic anywhere in Australia.
Instead, this Government is just rebadging existing state clinics, which fails to deliver even one more doctor or one more consult for patients. Experts on the ground are now even advising that the clinics will not take the pressure off Australia’s health system as promised.
Labor promised 24/7 nurses in every aged care home this year, but they have already admitted that they cannot deliver on this promise, and aged care homes are now closing as a result of their ill-considered decision.
The Coalition and the sector have been consistently warning the Government that their decision to expedite staffing requirements by a full year, amid a workforce crisis, would lead to the closure of aged care homes and impose rigid constraints on the sector.
Labor promised they would make it easier and cheaper to see a doctor, but the rising cost of living overseen by this Government has increased the cost of GP consultations significantly, and the Government has ripped doctors out of rural and regional Australia by changing the Distribution Priority Areas.
Without an urgent and comprehensive workforce strategy to address the staffing crisis in our healthcare system, it will not be easier to see a GP no matter how many headline promises they make.
Labor promised to strengthen Medicare, but so far they have weakened it. They have slashed Medicare-funded mental health support in half, cut 70 telehealth items from Medicare, and bulk billing rates are plummeting after being at record highs when the Coalition left government.
Shadow Minister for Health and Aged Care, Senator the Hon Anne Ruston said, “for all their rhetoric on prioritising health and aged care leading into the election, this Labor Government continues to ignore the biggest issue facing both systems, which is workforce.”
“By refusing to develop a strategy to address this urgent issue, our health and aged care systems remain under serious pressure and Labor’s promises will have delivered only headlines and no practical outcomes.”
“Australians must look at this Government’s actions and not their words – They are harming our aged care system by fast-tracking undeliverable requirements, they have removed critical support from Australians struggling with their mental health, and they have redirected desperately-needed doctors away from rural towns,’ Senator Ruston said.
Time and time again, this Government continues to prove that they are all headline and no delivery. The Albanese Labor Government must start prioritising the practical implementation of their policies instead of making hollow promises to the Australian public.
Quotes Attributable Shadow Assistant Minister for Mental Health, Melissa McIntosh MP:
“In the Coalition’s Budget-in-Reply Speech, Opposition Leader Peter Dutton prioritised the mental health of Australians by announcing that a returned Coalition Government would re-instate the full 20 Medicare-funded psychology sessions on a permanent basis.”
“The Government could have come out in support of mental health. Instead, it was extremely disappointing that Australia’s Health Minister said that supporting vulnerable Australians with more psychology sessions was ‘lazy’ policy. What message does that send to every single Australian struggling right now?”
“Australians now have a clear choice when it comes to mental health,” Ms McIntosh said.
Quotes attributable to Shadow Assistant Minister for Health, Aged Care and Indigenous Health Services, Gavin Pearce MP:
“I’ve been hearing on the ground that Labor is giving with one hand, only to take away much more with the other.
“This government has shown great fondness for referring everything to a committee or a working group, but they aren’t really listening because key stakeholders across the health and aged care systems are telling me they’re being blindsided by Labor’s poor decisions.
“For example, Labor’s promised Urgent Care Centre in Devonport should be up and running by now. Not only is it overdue, but with 70 GP vacancies across the state, is Labor’s staffing strategy to rob Peter to pay Paul, or is it simply to break their election commitment to our region?”
Quotes attributable to Shadow Assistant Minister for Regional Health, Dr Anne Webster MP:
"I said this in my maiden speech that a person’s postcode should not determine their health status and repeated it many times since. However, Labor's policies continue to make regional Australians’ health worse off.
"Within two months in government, Labor expanded the Distribution Priority Areas which bled doctors from the regions to urban settings. They have expedited mandatory Registered Nurse requirements in aged care which has compromised the viability of smaller regional facilities. Labor have doubled pharmaceutical dispensing to 60 days, risking the closure of regional pharmacies. Labor favours a one size fits all approach, wherever you live – country or city - which fails regional communities.”