07 March 2022


SUBJECTS: Doctor shortages; Medicare; Bulk Billing; Health Spending. 

JESS WALSH, LABOR SENATOR FOR VICTORIA: We have heard extraordinary evidence this morning. We’ve heard from GP clinics that tell us that they could have two or three times the number of GPs that they have today. There is a GP drought in the outer suburbs of Victoria, it is at absolute crisis levels. We've heard of doctors who are so burnt out that they can't even have time to take annual leave. And we've heard of clinics that have wait times of two or three weeks for people. The implications for residents in this area, they are extreme. This is an area with many people from lower socio-economic backgrounds with chronic health issues. And it is a complete disgrace that the Morrison government has let the Medicare system get to this stage of crisis here in Victoria. The local member Peter Murphy has been raising these issues. And she's here to tell us more about it. 

PETA MURPHY, MEMBER FOR DUNKLEY: Thank you very much, Senator. One of the amazing things about my community is that when there is a crisis or when there is a need people stand up, and we have been fighting together local GP clinics and I, since almost the day I was elected in May of 2019, to get the Morison government to understand that clinics in our area cannot attract and retain GPs. It's bad for the clinics, it's bad for the GPs who are here, working day and night often to service local patients. It’s really bad for my community, for people that live here. We have, sadly, higher than the state average instances of many chronic diseases -diabetes, heart disease - we have a lower age of death in my area in many of my suburbs, then across the state. If there's an outer suburban area that needs GPs, and needs GPs that can serve people who don't have money to pay out of pocket, it’s the wider Frankston area. We’ve had today at this Senate hearing, and we will have later today at this Senate hearing, some terrific and quite frankly brave local doctors and local practice managers prepared to put their faces and names to the crisis that they are going through trying to look after people in their moments of need. So I want to thank the local doctors and practice managers who have been brave enough to front a Senate committee and answerany question that are put their way about why it is they can't retain and encourage doctors to come here and it's not because of their clinics. It's because the Medicare system under the Morrison government and the way that they are calculating need for GPs is broken and the Morrison government and the minister has not done anything about it. It's been eight long years of this government, and it's been nearly three years since I've been the member for Dunkley, everyone here has raised with me, with the minister and I've raised in the parliament, the issues that they're experiencing, and if it wasn't for this Senate inquiry, all avenues would have been exhausted. So we are calling on the Morrison government to listen to the evidence of these amazing people today about what we need for our community.