The Abbott Government has again shown its complete lack of understanding for the needs of Australian families by abolishing the GP After Hours Helpline.
The GP After Hours service offers parents with sick kids and elderly patients a vital back up service when their GP may not be available – at nights, on weekends and on public holidays.
It was established by Labor as a 365 day a year support service for people who may otherwise call an ambulance or go to the local hospital’s emergency department.
The GP After Hours Helpline has enabled families in the middle of the night to simply pick up the phone and talk to a nurse or GP to get advice and if needed, be referred to their nearest open after-hours service.
As well providing reassurance to parents and patients, the service helped reduce pressure on emergency departments.
Now, this service is gone, abolished by the Abbott Government in a sneaky Budget night hit on families with no warning or up-front announcement.
Worse, it comes just weeks before Medicare Locals are also to be wound up, taking with them their GP Access After Hours service.
The minister must immediately release the full report of the review into after-hours care that her government has now been sitting on for seven months so a proper assessment can be made of this valuable service.
This sneaky attack on families comes on top of the Abbott Government’s decision to persist with its attempts to slug families with a GP Tax and hike the price of medicines.
It confirms that far from having learnt the lessons of last year’s disastrous Budget, the Abbott Government appears determined to inflict even more pain and chaos on a health sector already reeling from last year’s cuts.
After cutting more than $60 billion from health in last year’s Budget, the Abbott Government ripped another $2 billion from the health portfolio this year including close to $1 billion from programs that fund measures such as preventative health care, drug and alcohol rehabilitation, mental health and other crucial health programs.
Only Labor can be trusted with Medicare, and only Labor can be trusted to fund and deliver a health system every Australian can rely on.