Pages tagged "Health"

  • Wyndham Vale GP Super Clinic Opens

    Leader of the Opposition, Bill Shorten, Shadow Minister for Health, Catherine King and Member for Lalor, Joanne Ryan today welcomed the official opening of the new Wyndham Vale GP Super Clinic.

    Labor recognised the need to plug the gap between local GPs and hospitals when in government. This super clinic is being delivered thanks to a commitment by Labor to provide access to after-hours services and ensure high quality healthcare is available in growth areas.

    This super clinic will co-locate multidisciplinary primary care, provide bulk billed and after hours services and reduce the load on local hospitals.

    The super clinic will cut waiting times and work in tandem with private practice and the South Western Melbourne Medicare Local to make seeing a doctor easier and quicker and to provide high quality primary care.

    ‘This is great news for the community of Wyndham Vale. It’s great news for the region and a much needed facility in this area of high growth. With approximately 70 babies born each week, 15,000 new residents in the last two years and a population of 200,000 expected by the end of this financial year’ said Joanne Ryan.

    ‘Labor invested $15 million towards establishing the Wyndham Vale GP Super Clinic, which is now providing bulk-billed primary care services to people of this community, encouraging them to seek care when they need it’.

    ‘None of these services would have been delivered by the Liberal Party and are all services that are at risk thanks to Tony Abbott’s plans to introduce a GP Tax and abolish Medicare Locals’ said Catherine King.

    Ms Ryan said “ISIS Primary Care has driven this project locally, taken on the challenge and excelled. The building is beautiful, functional and has plenty of room for future expansion as the needs of our community evolve”.

  • Official Opening of the Wyndham Vale GP Super Clinic

    I would like to pay my respects to the traditional owners, the Woiwurung and Wathaurung people and their elders past and present.

    I am so honoured to be here today, with Terry O’Bryan and his wonderful team and Clovis Bonner and his terrific board.
    I also acknowledge our local council and community representatives.

    I am so pleased to be joined by my Labor colleagues, our Leader, Bill Shorten and Catherine King, the Federal Shadow Minister for Health, to celebrate this great achievement. Labor is proud of its record in delivering vital service like these. Thank you for making the time to be here today.

    Today is a great day for the Wyndham community. I would like to commend ISIS Primary Care and the work they have done in the community health sector across the west of Melbourne for more than 17 years.

    Now ISIS is working hard to provide primary health care for the community of Wyndham Vale through this great facility, the Wyndham Vale GP Super Clinic.

    This is great news for the community of Wyndham Vale. It’s great news for the region. A much needed facility in this area of high growth; with approximately 70 babies born each week, with 15,000 new residents in the last 2 years and a population of 200,000 expected by the end of this financial year.

    This facility is a shining example how government health policy can directly serve the well-being of its citizens.

    The Rudd-Gillard Government saw the need to plug the gap between local GP’s and Hospitals. Health Minister, Nicola Roxon, another champion of the west, identified a need in the provision of Primary Care. She recognised the need for local services that would go further than just providing a local GP, one that would be able to also take the load off hospitals.
    GP super clinics were designed to deal effectively with primary care.

    This GP Super Clinic will cut waiting times and work in tandem with private practice and our Medicare Local to make seeing a doctor easier and quicker.

    This GP Super Clinic will bring together general practitioners, practice nurses, allied health professionals, visiting medical specialists and other health care providers to deliver primary health care services aimed at addressing the health care needs and priorities of our local community.

    Prevention of diseases before they take hold is extremely important, as treatment after they have become established is difficult, time consuming and a huge burden on the economy.

    The fiscally shrewd way to deal with diseases then, is to prevent them, to treat them at the primary level.
    This is why investing in GP Super Clinics is not only a good and sound idea for our nation’s health, it is also fiscally responsible.

    And this is why my community is thankful to people like Nicola Roxon and Tanya Plibersek and indeed my predecessor Julia Gillard for putting so much work into this project.

    I first visited this facility last year, with Julia, as she inspected the building work in progress. As the previous Member for Lalor, Julia, followed this project closely and wanted the following message to be read out on her behalf:

    Thank you kindly for your invitation to attend the official opening of the Wyndham Vale GP Super Clinic and Primary Care Centre. It was my great delight to turn the first sod on these grounds in October 2012 and I regret that I cannot join you today in these celebrations.

    This is a growing community with growing health care needs. Because of the Labor Government’s investment in this clinic, residents in Wyndham Vale finally have access to the care they need when and where they need it. My congratulations go to all involved, and to the staff, I wish you the very best in delivering the healthcare needs of this great community.

    Julia Gillard

    ISIS has driven this project locally, taken on the challenge and excelled.

    They had three clear aims for the centre- that it be;

    • An iconic building
    • Near public transport
    • Near a shopping centre

    They have achieved all three of these aims.

    They built it all, under budget and in good time.

    The building is beautiful, functional and has plenty of room for future expansion. Wonderful to see there was foresight to deliver a facility with the capacity to grow with the community, as the residents arrive.

    This was done with $15million dollars from the Federal Government at a total cost of $23million.

    This investment also builds on the unprecedented investment by the previous Labor Government in the Mercy Hospital and the establishment of the Melbourne Clinical School, in conjunction with Notre Dame University, to train doctors here locally.

    This facility is good news for health provision in Lalor.

    I thank ISIS and all those involved for their efforts and expertise.

     

  • Abbott cuts $8.3 Million for Mercy Hospital

    Tony Abbott’s Liberal Government will slash $277 million from Victoria’s hospitals, heaping more pressure on a system already struggling to cope.

    Joanne Ryan, Member for Lalor, Tim Pallas, Member for Tarneit and Jill Hennessy, Member for Altona have condemned  the $277 million cuts including $8.3million to be cut from the Mercy hospital group, meaning patients across Wyndham will suffer.

    “Tony Abbott is slashing $277 million from Victoria’s hospitals, this is terrible news on top the cuts already implemented by Denis Napthine. Of all the states and territories, Tony Abbott has hit Victoria hardest” Ms Ryan said.

    “Premier Denis Napthine has already plunged Victorian hospitals into crisis, with clogged emergency departments, ambulances taking too long to reach people in emergencies and more patients waiting longer than ever for surgery.”

    “The money Mr Abbott will rip out of the system could clear the elective surgery waiting list or employ 3,000 nurses or open 500 new hospital beds” said Ms Hennessy.

    “Mr Napthine said he would ‘kick and scream’ for a greater share of GST funding, but he has remained utterly silent on this massive cut to our hospitals that will affect patients right across Victoria” said Tim Pallas.

    Labor has strong runs on the board when it comes to funding health locally, recent investment include;

    • $28million for the new Community Rehabilitation Centre at the Mercy Hospital,
    • $15million for the new GP Superclinic in Wyndham Vale,  and
    • providing a headspace Youth Mental Health Service in Werribee

    You can’t trust the Liberals with our health system. Victoria deserves better.  

  • ISIS Primary Care, Wyndahm Vale GP Super Clinic

    I rise to today to commend to the House ISIS Primary Care and the work they have done in the community health sector across the west of Melbourne for more than 17 years. ISIS has an annual budget of $33 million and employs more than 400 staff throughout Melbourne's west. Recently, ISIS worked together with the previous federal Labor government to provide primary health care to the community of Wyndham Vale in the Lalor electorate. I am pleased to be able to say that the Wyndham Vale GP superclinic opened its doors last Friday and that they did this under budget. I was able to take a tour of the facility on Sunday with hundreds of other locals after receiving a flyer in my letterbox.

    This is great news for the community of Wyndham Vale and it is great news for the region. It is also a shining example of how a government's health policy can directly serve the wellbeing of its citizens. The previous Labor government saw the need to plug the gap in primary health care services. This need was identified under former health minister Nicola Roxon.

    Australia produces surgeons of renown who have performed many world firsts in areas such as microsurgery and organ transplants. Australia is also renowned throughout the world for the quality of its doctors. Other nations look to us and try to emulate our Medicare system. You might say that it is a good place to get sick. What was missing, however, was an intensive approach in the space between the two—a service that would go further than just a local GP and one able to take the load off hospitals. The GP superclinics were designed to do just that—to deal effectively with primary care.

    GP superclinics bring together general practitioners, practice nurses, allied health professionals, visiting medical specialists and other healthcare providers to deliver primary healthcare services aimed at addressing the healthcare needs and priorities of their local communities. Importantly, this GP superclinic will provide after-hours care and dental care, addressing the current 22-month waiting lists in my electorate.

    As many of us in this House know, each electorate has its own unique health profile. For example, only 40 per cent of women in Wyndham have regular Pap smears, an alarming statistic in preventative health terms. This GP superclinic will cut waiting times and work in tandem with private practice and the Medicare local to make seeing a doctor and getting vital health checks easier and more timely.

    As a further example, the rate of gestational diabetes in my electorate, where 76 babies are born each week, is 4.5 per cent, almost twice the national average. Reducing these numbers is critical because gestational diabetes increases the risk of type 2 diabetes in the longer term. Preventing diseases like diabetes before they take hold is extremely important, as treatment after they become established is difficult, time consuming, leads to poorer health outcomes for patients and leads to lower economic productivity too.

    On a purely economic basis, the fiscally shrewd way to deal with diseases, then, is to prevent them—to treat them at the primary level. Prevention, of course, is often immeasurable in the health outcomes for individuals, families and communities. This is why investing in this GP superclinic is not only a good and sound idea for our community's health, it is also fiscally responsible and this is why my community is thankful to people like Nicola Roxon and the current Deputy Leader of the Opposition, Tanya Plibersek, and indeed my predecessor, Julia Gillard, for putting such work into this project. We also thank Terry O'Brien, the CEO of ISIS, and Clovis Bonner, the chair of the ISIS board.

    ISIS have driven the project locally, taken on the challenge and excelled. They had three clear aims for the centre: that it be an iconic building that spoke to the importance of health, that it be near public transport and that it be near a shopping centre to increase awareness and access. They have achieved all three of these aims. The building is beautiful and functional and has plenty of room built in for future expansion. It is near public transport, right next to the Manor Lakes railway station, and the Manor Lakes shopping centre is just a stone's throw away. They have achieved this despite the building being built on the very edge of the growth corridor—truly a greenfields site: no power, no water, no drainage. They built it all under budget and in good time. This was achieved with $15 million from the federal government, at a total cost of $23 million. This GP superclinic will add to the six sites already run by ISIS throughout the Wyndham, Brimbank and Hobsons Bay local government areas.

    We needed this GP superclinic. The Wyndham region is going through a period of unprecedented growth. There is a clear need for family healthcare services at the primary level; there is a clear need for this service to operate after hours; and there is a clear need for this service to offer bulk-billing. This GP superclinic satisfies all of those needs. This is good news for health provision in Lalor. I thank ISIS and all those involved for their efforts and expertise.

  • GP tax to cost local families $7.5 million

    Local families will be among the hardest hit by the Abbott Government’s GP Tax, new Medicare analysis has shown, Member for Lalor Joanne Ryan said today.

    “Families in our region could be forced to pay $6 every time they visit their doctor if the Abbott Government breaks yet another election promise and introduces a GP Tax,” Ms Ryan said.

    “In our community, with a bulk billing rate of nearly 91%, $6 a visit would cost local residents more than $7.5 million every year.”

    Ms Ryan said that this was an unprecedented attack on Medicare and would hurt those who could least afford it.

    “Medicare has always been about ensuring that every Australian can access the healthcare they need, regardless of how much they have in their pocket.”

    “With a GP Tax, local families who are already struggling to make ends meet simply won’t be able to afford to take their sick child or an elderly relative to their local doctor.”

    “And if the Abbott Government wants to charge $6 now, there is no guarantee the price won’t keep going up and up.”

    Ms Ryan said that Tony Abbott was breaking promise after promise to the Australian people.

    “Mr Abbott said prior to the election that he wouldn’t bring in any new taxes, but yet again he’s done a backflip.”

    “As the Member for Lalor, I will continue to fight any attempt by this government to hurt the health of our local community.”

  • National Partnership Agreement on Improving Public Hospitals

    I rise today to commend the former Labor government's National Partnership Agreement on Improving Public Hospitals, which has come to fruition today in my electorate. This morning was the official opening of the Werribee Mercy Hospital's rehabilitation centre. This $28 million COAG funded project comprises 30 specialist subacute beds, a gymnasium and a two-storey community rehabilitation centre to service Melbourne south-west.

    The Werribee Mercy funding was part of a $36 million injection into western suburbs hospitals, which has also funded an operating theatre at Williamstown Hospital and short-stay beds at Sunshine and Western hospitals. Unable to attend the opening this morning, I was disappointed to hear that state Minister for Health David Davis and MLC Andrew Elsbury have a press release that does not give credit where credit is due and attempts to diminish the role of the previous Labor federal government in securing this project. They are of the same stripe as the government across, causing anxiety about health funding and health costs in my electorate. Families in our region could be forced to pay $6 every time they visit their doctor if the Abbott government breaks yet another election promise and introduces a GP tax. In our community, with a bulk-billing rate of nearly 91 per cent, $6 a visit would cost local residents more than $7.5 million every year. This will hurt my community and be a further hit to the most vulnerable.

  • Private Health Insurance Legislation Amendment Bill 2013

    The Australian Labor Party has always known the importance of a sustainable private health insurance sector, and the indexation of the private health insurance rebate is an important part of keeping this sector sustainable. It is often said that one's health is one's wealth. If this is true, it is fair to say that a nation's wealth is the health of its people. No party understands this better than Labor. Time and time again Labor has come to the defence of our nation's health system. Time and time again we have rebuilt it after the conservatives have recklessly slashed budgets and relentlessly sought to tear down Medicare. Time and time again, it has been Labor that has had the courage to tackle the threats to our nation's health by listening to health professionals and formulating sound health policy.

    But Labor also understands that this comes at a cost. Health expenses count for 19 per cent of Australian government expenditure. We must always be looking at ways to make savings and strive for efficiency, but not at the cost of the health of our citizens. The indexation of the private health insurance rebate is expected to raise about $700 million in savings over the forward estimates. This is money that can be reinvested into the health system, a system that the Prime Minister himself commended as being 'in pretty good shape' after the stellar work done by the previous Labor government, work led by former health ministers Nicola Roxon and our Deputy Leader, Tanya Plibersek. This bill will not affect the amount of money saved on the private health insurance rebate, and it maintains the integrity of the former Labor government's intent. This bill aims to change the way private health insurers make the calculation to apply and administer it.

    I was a school principal in my previous life. I therefore understand paperwork and the burden of administration. I also understand the time and effort required when implementing new systems. As a principal, I was privy to the amount of work involved when new processes were introduced, and I know firsthand how much of my staff's time was taken up with administration. So I am sympathetic to the health insurers and their wish for the quick and efficient implementation of this legislation, and I support this bill and its aim. But I would like to highlight that the rights of policy holders should not be diluted or lessened by health insurers' understandable aim to reduce their administrative burden as a result of this amendment.

    When the Labor government introduced this change in May last year, there was a debate centred around whether the indexation of the rebate should be calculated at the product level as implemented, at industry level, or at the individual insurer level. The Department of Health and Ageing was concerned that proposing the indexation at industry level, as this bill does, would put smaller insurers at a competitive disadvantage. We on this side of the House, and I assume many of those opposite, value the importance of not only a competitive private health insurance market but one that offers a diversity of choice. This is why I share the concern held by the Department of Health and Ageing and those raised by the member for Ballarat earlier that this amendment may put smaller insurers at a competitive disadvantage. At the core of Labor's proposed implementation model was an aim to create greater competition and transparency for consumers. It is now up to the government to show how this bill will do just that. It is now up to the government to reassure the smaller insurers that they will not be at a competitive disadvantage. It is now up to the government to reassure that private health insurance consumers will not suffer through lack of choice, and that they will not suffer the adverse effects of being at the mercy of an uncompetitive market.

    As I said earlier, Labor is and has been committed to there being a sustainable private health insurance sector, so it stands to reason that we support measures that enhance competition. But we go further—we stand up for consumers too. This is what separates us from those opposite. While the coalition consistently sides with big business, Labor advocates for consumers and stands up to a government that cares little for the rights and needs of the average Australian. Labor is the only party that can see the value of, and advocate for, a competitive marketplace that enhances the health and wellbeing of its population and not just the health and wellbeing of big business.

    Like many in this place, I am a student of history and I think that examining the past reveals much. So let us take a look at this government's record when it comes to private health insurance so far. This is the government that has approved the biggest increase to private health insurance premiums in almost a decade. This is the government that tried to sneak through these changes, making it more expensive for every Australian with a private health insurance policy, just two days before Christmas. This is the government that says it wants the private health insurance industry to have a greater involvement in the delivery of health care, but, really, they are seeking to destroy Australia's system of universal health care by creating a two-tier health system. This is the government that, the public are hearing, intends to sell Medibank Private while failing to demonstrate in any way how it will improve competition or help Australian consumers—not a single argument as to why we should sell an asset like Medibank Private.

    Despite the constant criticism from the coalition when in opposition, the number of people with private health insurance was at its highest rate in Australia's history under a Labor government. Unlike so many of the Abbott government's assertions, this can be backed up by statistics and data. The most recent data from the Private Health Insurance Administration Council shows that over 105,000 more people took out private health insurance between June and September last year. Compared to the same time in 2012, more than 255,000 Australians had private health insurance cover. In percentage terms, this represents the highest rate of insurance cover ever, with 47 per cent of Australians having hospital cover and 55 per cent having general cover.

    It was under the former Labor government that a means-tested rebate for private health insurance was introduced. This meant more money available to invest in our health system, more money to fund much needed and lifesaving medicines, and more money to build important health infrastructure like the network of regional integrated cancer centres. Labor did this because the health of every single Australian has always been our priority. We see this in our proud history in wider health reform. We are, after all, the party of Medicare, the party of the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme, and the party of the National Disability Insurance Scheme. Under a Labor government, Australians had greater access to more doctors and more nurses, as well as a record number of GPs and health professionals being trained. It was a Labor government that ensured that seeing a dentist became as easy as seeing a doctor for 3.4 million Australian kids, that pensioners and low-income earners gained access to improved dental services and that our young people gained access to a dedicated and committed mental health service in headspace. It is always Labor that cares about the health and wellbeing of everyone in our community. It was under Labor that bulk-billing became easier and more accessible.

    I see Labor's commitment to health demonstrated in my electorate every day. I see it in the tailored and integrated health care provided by our South Western Melbourne Medicare Local. I see it at the Werribee Mercy Hospital, which received $28 million in funding to build a 30-bed sub-acute service and a community rehabilitation centre. I see our commitment to health care when I visit the soon-to-be-opened Wyndham Vale GP superclinic. And I know I will see it when our local headspace opens, providing much needed mental health services to our young people. I see Labor's commitment to health every day, because we believe that every Australian, young or old, wealthy or not, deserves great health care.

    But imagine if this free and fair system did not exist: if we had a government that did not recognise how important funding health infrastructure and services was; if, instead of having equitable access, seeing a GP depended on how much money you had in your pocket, not how much your need was; if concessions to business and industry were more important than the health and wellbeing of the Australian population. We do not have to imagine too hard, unfortunately, because under this government it could become reality.

    In contrast to Labor, Mr Abbott was the health minister that cut $1 billion from our hospitals and health services. It is his party that has failed to commit to Medicare Locals and that failed to see just how important services like Medicare Locals are to communities like mine. This is also the party that opposed the introduction of GP superclinics, and the party that refuses to acknowledge existing care shortages and see the benefit of holistic health services like the Wyndham Vale GP superclinic. It is also this party that seeks to impose a tax upon the sick—in other words, a tax upon the most vulnerable in our community. Because, despite their promises to the contrary, this is not a party that cares about the health of every Australian. Instead, it is Labor that stands for universal access to health care so the most vulnerable Australians can access the highest quality care available. And it is Labor that supports a sustainable private health insurance sector.

  • Health Workforce Australia

    I too rise to speak on clinical training for our health professionals and the importance of the work being undertaken by Health Workforce Australia, and I thank the member for Kingston for the motion. As the representative of a growing community, I recognise the importance of ensuring the continued success of our health system, particularly in terms of our outer metropolitan and rural and regional communities—and I note that it is not just regional communities.

    We face many challenges: an ageing population, an increased rate of heart disease, a rise in diabetes, mental health issues and addressing the concerns of those from migrant and Indigenous backgrounds. All of these issues affect my community and every community in Australia.

    We need the workforce to be able to effectively address these issues. We need skilled and innovative doctors, nurses and allied health workers on the ground. We need a productive health system that enhances development and advancement. Also, we need to ensure we have health professionals in the areas and specialties where they are needed.

    As you can see, providing adequate and comprehensive clinical training is truly about the health and wellbeing of our population and our nation. It is then imperative that we do all we can to proactively plan and assist health training capacity for our health professionals, now and into the future. In doing so, we can create a flexible, innovative and responsive health workforce that can meet the needs of all Australians. Government has a vital role to play in this.

    Back in 2009 the National Health Workforce Taskforce identified that an additional ongoing intake of 12,000 students a year would be necessary to meet future health workforce requirements. Without this additional workforce we face a shortage of doctors, nurses and health professionals; an increasingly disparate and unequal health system; and a system where patients, based on nothing more than their postcode, are left behind.

    That is why Health Workforce Australia is so important. As a Commonwealth authority, Health Workforce Australia delivers a nationwide and collaborative approach to our health workforce. Since its beginnings, Health Workforce Australia has been working cooperatively with governments and non-government organisations alike. By working with both the health and tertiary sector, they play an important role in planning and training Australia's health workforce.

    An important part of this is ensuring greater training opportunities in the healthcare system. It was, for example, Health Workforce Australia that played an active role in increasing the depth of clinical training for our health students. Most recently, figures show a 50 per cent increase in the number of clinical training days in 2012, compared with 2010.

    A huge component of this work is the Clinical Training Funding program, which provides funding to ensure there are enough training places to meet Australia's future health workforce needs. In total, the Clinical Training Funding program committed $432.2 million to public and private health services and universities. This assistance has meant the creation of 8,400 new clinical training places for students across 22 individual disciplines. Importantly, the program also actively promotes a balance in the distribution of clinical placements and students in our most underserviced areas. The Clinical Training Funding program is creating Australia's health professionals of the future, where and when we need them. It is key to our success.

    Given the importance of this assistance, and the bipartisan support that another member spoke of, it is of great concern that the Assistant Minister for Health has suggested that unallocated funding to support critical clinical training has been frozen by the Abbott government. If they are acutely aware, we call on them to act. This is about the very future of our doctors and our nurses, the very future of our health system and the very future of our nation's wellbeing—and it is December 2013.

    Surely the current Minister for Health can see this is too important an issue to play politics with, so I call on the coalition government to immediately make available funding to our universities and health services to ensure clinical placements continue to be available and that our students have greater access to placements now and into the future. It is about the health and wellbeing of every Australian.

  • Coalition Lacks Commitment to Medicare Locals

    Joanne Ryan, Member for Lalor, has condemned the Coalition Government's refusal to rule out closing any Medicare Locals.

    "In what is clearly a broken promise, Minister for Health Peter Dutton has refused to guarantee he won't cut Medicare Locals," Ms Ryan said.

    "Given the importance of the South Western Melbourne Medicare Local, this would have a huge impact on the health of our local community."

    Ms Ryan said that the jobs of more than 1700 frontline workers employed at Medicare Locals across Australia could be at risk. 

    "Mr Dutton owes it to these health professionals and their patients to guarantee that our Medicare Locals will not close."

     "Locally, SWMML employees 90 people who are dedicated to improving health outcomes for our region."

     "If the Coalition Government has plans to close Medicare Locals, they need to be honest with the community."