Health | October 30, 2019

Kealy calls for urgent action to address rural doctor shortage

The Nationals Member for Lowan, Emma Kealy has again demanded the Andrews Labor Government take immediate action to address the critical shortage of rural doctors, which is impacting on state public hospital services in the Lowan electorate.

Speaking in Parliament, Ms Kealy called for the Minister for Health, Jenny Mikakos to explain what action Labor was taking to recruit and retain regional doctors.

“The State Government needs to work closely with our public hospitals and other local healthcare providers to develop solutions to this critical issue for the short and long term. We simply can’t afford to have hospitals with no doctors or further restrictions on the access and availability of local doctors and the essential health services they provide to the community,” Ms Kealy said.

The doctor shortage is directly impacting on demand for medical support at local state run emergency departments and urgent care centres, with some public hospitals in Lowan at high risk of no longer having 24/7 access to on-site doctors.

“Labor’s refusal to address the doctor shortage is having a huge impact on our public hospitals. When people cannot see their GP and serious illnesses go undiagnosed and untreated, people can end up being critically unwell. This puts enormous pressure on our urgent care centres and emergency departments,” Ms Kealy said.

The situation is rapidly escalating to a rural health crisis, with communities including Edenhope, Kaniva, Nhill, Murtoa, Rupanyup and Minyip in urgent need of doctors to support their local public health services.

“I am regularly contacted by local constituents concerned about the rural doctor shortage, but despite raising the matter with the Minister on a number of occasions the Victorian Labor Government still doesn’t have a regional health workforce plan for the short or long term,” Ms Kealy said..

“It is unacceptable that we have whole communities without doctors, forcing people to travel to nearby towns with no public transport available.

“Unfortunately our health workforce crisis extends beyond doctors: local pharmacy owners are also frustrated at their inability to attract qualified pharmacists to the area, as well as many other health providers finding it impossible to fill long term staff vacancies.”

The Andrews Labor Government has also taken the scalpel to Victoria’s 28 Primary Care Partnerships with Labor confirming funding will only be provided to the end of June 2020.

Labor Health Minister, Jenny Mikakos recently told Parliament that Primary Care Partnerships were not her priority, despite the incredible work to co-ordinate and deliver vital community health programs in our region.

“It’s time Labor stopped cuts to health funding and instead invested in better health outcomes for people who choose to live in country Victoria”, Ms Kealy said.

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