Albanese commits to trial of urgent care clinic in Joondalup

Opposition leader Anthony Albanese says if Labor wins the election they will establish a trial Medicare urgent care clinic in Joondalup for families needing urgent care from a doctor or nurse. File picture

LABOR says if elected on May 21 it will fund a trial Medicare urgent care clinic to be located near Joondalup Health Campus.

Last Wednesday Opposition leader Anthony Albanese said Labor would invest more than $135 million over four years to establish a trial of 50 Medicare urgent care clinics across Australia, which were part of their plan to strengthen Medicare by making it easier to see a doctor.

In a joint statement Mr Albanese, Opposition Health spokesman Mark Butler and Labor candidate for Pearce Tracey Roberts said under the Liberals out of pocket costs to see a GP in Pearce and Moore had gone up by 30 to 43 per cent.

They said the urgent care clinic near Joondalup Health Campus would be tailored to meet the needs of the local community.

Mr Albanese said the proposed Medicare urgent care clinics, which would be based at GP surgeries and community health centres, would take the pressure off emergency departments, so they could concentrate on saving lives.

Mr Butler said Medicare urgent care centres were a practical, tangible example of Labor’s commitment to strengthen Medicare and make it easier for families to access care.

“Medicare is the bedrock of our health system and by using it to help take the pressure off hospital emergency departments we make can the whole system stronger,’’ he said.”

Mrs Roberts said Labor’s commitment would ease the pressure on local hospitals, ensuring local families could see a doctor, rather than wait in an emergency room.”

In response Australian Medical Association (AMA) president Omar Khorshid said Labor’s proposal sounded a lot like the failed GP super clinic model from over a decade ago, one that led to practices being built that ended up competing with local practices, ended up making absolutely zero difference to hospital waiting lists and zero difference to the quality of primary care delivery in the community.

Dr Khorshid said both parties were failing the needs of Australians when it came to health care.

“The Liberal Party and the Coalition Government have got a plan, they’ve got the 10 Year Primary Health Care Plan, but they’ve failed to fund it, and that plan will sit on the shelf unless the Coalition, during this election campaign, commits to actually funding this reform that they have worked so hard along with all the stakeholders to develop,’’ he said.

He said what Labor needed to do was address the deeper issues in the health system addressed, such as the need for Medicare reform, to commit to the 10 Year Primary Health Care Plan and to address the urgent need for extra funding in the public hospital system. Labor said the Medicare urgent care clinics would take the pressure off hospital emergency departments by providing an alternative option for families needing urgent care from a doctor or nurse.

“They will treat sprains and broken bones, cuts, wounds, insect bites, minor ear and eye problems and minor burns,’’ they said.

“Care will be bulk billed, meaning families won’t be out-of-pocket for having a loved one attended to, just like if they’d gone to a public hospital.

“They’ll be open seven days a week from at least 8am to 10pm – the time when the majority of non-life-threatening injuries occur.’’