Election health promises hang in the balance
GPs appear no closer to knowing what direction health system reform will take with both major parties still courting the support of independents they will require to form government.
Labor’s sweeping health reforms, including the future of 23 new GP super clinics and its controversial $436 million patient enrolment and pay-for-performance diabetes scheme, now hang in the balance.
Similarly, the Coalition’s promises to scrap the super clinics initiative and increase rebates for long consultations, after-hours work and practice nurses also remain in doubt.
RACGP president Dr Chris Mitchell said while it was difficult to know what the future would now hold for the health system, he remained confident that both sides of politics understood the value of retaining general practice at the centre of primary care.
“In terms of policy we will be in limbo until the Government is actually formed by whoever can gain the favour of those key independents,” Dr Mitchell told MO.
“But the evidence behind the importance of general practice in the health system is sufficiently strong that whoever does form government is really going to want to make sure that general practice is working well.”
Despite the lack of certainty following Saturday’s polls, GPs did have some success over the weekend, with Victorian Dr Richard Di Natale winning election to the Senate for the Greens in Victoria and former WA GP Dr Mal Washer easily retaining his Lower House seat in Moore.
With the Greens now set to hold the balance of power in the Senate, Dr Di Natale is poised to play a key role in health reform. His party has pledged to increase training places across health disciplines and to focus on mental and preventive health.