The Strengthening Medicare Taskforce Report released today by the Government, whilst clear on the problems facing primary care in Australia, contains no specific actions, no funding and no timelines.
Disappointingly, the Report has no urgency.
There is nothing in this Report to address the immediate challenge facing our health system which is workforce shortages.
The aspirations and sentiment of this report are absolutely commendable, but it has not been followed up by any urgent or tangible new measures from the Albanese Labor Government.
For months and months, we have seen the Prime Minister and the Minister for Health talk about the crisis in healthcare and the workforce shortages that are putting significant pressures on the system. But once again, we are not seeing any tangible plan from the Government to address this critical issue.
In fact, all this Government has done to date is weaken the system which is far from their promise to strengthen Medicare.
Bulk billing levels, which were at a record high when the Coalition left government, have dropped because the Health Minister has broken confidence in the system by prioritising politics over healthcare outcomes.
The Government has cut hospital funding and slashed Medicare-subsidised mental health support. They have ripped doctors out of rural, regional and remote Australia by changing the Distribution Priority Areas for overseas trained doctors, and they have cut 70 telehealth items from Medicare.
Their Urgent Care Clinics, although promised to be up and running in the first 12 months of their government, have largely been abandoned, with the Prime Minister admitting today on national television that only seven will be operational by years end.
And now, they have released a report that has no urgent actions or timelines to deliver the relief this Government promised all Australians.
The Opposition calls on the Government to immediately provide the timelines and detail of the funding required to ease the pressure on Australia’s hardworking doctors and nurses.
At a time when Australians are struggling with skyrocketing energy bills, mortgage re-payment and grocery bills, we are now seeing the cost of going to the doctor skyrocketing too.
The Government needs to stop talking about the challenges facing Australians and start doing something about them.
Actions speak louder than words, and what we have here today is just more words and still no actions.