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Missed Opportunity for Most Vulnerable to Access Primary Health Care

By March 22, 2023No Comments

Today in Parliament I asked the Premier if he would fund the Moreton Group to provide healthcare to vulnerable Tasmanians at no cost to the patient.

The Premier today missed this opportunity to provide the funding needed which would see the continuation of the currently unfunded daytime services at the Glenorchy Salvation Army and Flint House, which target the most vulnerable in our community who simply cannot access a GP, either because finding a GP who bulk-bills is close to impossible or because, in any event, most GPs have closed their books to new patients.

The Premier justified not funding this service by saying the other providers were successful and overall funding has not been cut, but this misses the point – there is simply not enough investment put into primary care, particularly in communities like the northern suburbs of Hobart where there is chronic disadvantage and vulnerability.

The patients who used to use the service at Glenorchy Salvation Army and Flint House will now have no choice but to attend the Royal’s Emergency Department for their healthcare needs, adding to the crisis there.

As respected Claremont GP Graeme Alexander said to the media last week, there is an endless stream of people ringing him, wanting to come to his practice, but they have no capacity because there are not enough doctors.

Dr Alexander further made the point that primary care is the most efficient care available – properly fund that and the community saves much, much more down the track.

The question I asked is below:

Premier, Moreton Group Medical Services, has been partially funded through Primary Health Tasmania to provide healthcare from 6pm on weeknights, at no cost to the patient.

These pop-up clinics visit the Elizabeth Street Mall and similar locations, targeting the most vulnerable in our community who simply cannot access a GP, either because finding a GP who bulk-bills is close to impossible or because, in any event, most GPs have closed their books to new patients.

Unfunded activities of the service include a clinic at the Glenorchy Salvation Army and Flint House where bulk-billed healthcare is provided.

Funding has been sought from the Primary Healthcare Grants Round Three, this funding would have allowed the continuation of unfunded daytime services and expansion of services to five days a week.

Sadly the service was unsuccessful in their funding request and as a direct result, daytime services now must cease next month.

Premier, this is a low-cost service that is philanthropically funded by Moreton Group Medical Services run on very little money but a huge amount of goodwill. It is exactly what we need because clients now will clog up the Royal’s Emergency Department, which is exactly what we must avoid.

Premier, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Will you re-visit the funding of this service that helps so many people who otherwise cannot see a GP?

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