Government’s taskforce on urgent after-hours primary care listens only to itself

Thursday, October 19, 2017

‘It’s now almost certain that patients will have less access to care as the Government moves to restrict use of MBS items for urgent after-hours care to general practitioners working predominantly in the in-hours period’, says Alison Verhoeven, Chief Executive of the Australian Healthcare and Hospitals Association (AHHA).

The AHHA was responding to the final report of the Medicare Benefits Schedule Review Taskforce on Urgent after-hours primary care services funded by the MBS.

‘The preliminary report was released for public consultation for about 6 weeks over June and July. We put in a submission, along with many others—submissions were not made public.

‘Now, months later, the Taskforce says they considered feedback from the public and have not made any changes. In fact the final report shows little recognition of interests and feedback other than from GPs.

‘In other words this Taskforce is saying “We do not care about consumer expectations of needed access to MBS-funded after-hours primary healthcare, both urgent and non-urgent”.’

‘The Taskforce is saying “We do not care that many consumers, unable to afford care not subsidised by Medicare, will now go to already-stretched hospital emergency departments to seek the care they need”.’

‘The Taskforce, consisting of 10 GPs and only 1 consumer representative—nominated by the Government—is saying “We only care about ensuring funding is exclusively available to some GPs—although we have demonstrated we are unwilling or unable to provide sufficient services to meet demand”.’

‘The fact is that medical deputising services emerged because general practitioners and general practices were and are not providing those services.

‘It really is time that this Taskforce and the Government started listening to what patients want instead of focusing on their own business interests.’

For more information on the AHHA, visit
The Australian Healthcare and Hospitals Association is the national peak body for public and not-for-profit hospitals, community and primary healthcare services.

Media enquiries: Alison Verhoeven, Chief Executive, Australian Healthcare and Hospitals Association, 0403 282 501