Abbott Government must not cut Illawarra Shoalhaven Medicare Local

Federal Members Stephen Jones and Sharon Bird today met with CEO of Illawarra Shoalhaven Medicare Local Dianne Kitcher and staff to discuss the future of the Medicare Local system. Big changes are expected in next week’s Budget.

“The local staff at Illawarra Shoalhaven Medicare Local are concerned over the speculation the Government will scrap the community-based Medicare Local system and axe over 30 local frontline health jobs with it”, said Jones.

“This is a very short-sighted plan that will only serve to cut services for regional patients who already struggle to get access to primary care.”

“Our Medicare Locals were created under Labor in 2011 to improve primary care on a local level”, said Ms Bird

“Illawarra Shoalhaven Medicare Local co-ordinates community health services and help patients access care that is specific to our local need, such as after-hours GP clinics, mental health support teams and chronic disease management.”

Stephen Jones says the Illawarra is ground zero for chronic diseases like diabetes, with local instances more than 1 per cent above the national average of 5.6 per cent.

“These statistics are very different to what you’d see in more affluent, inner city areas”, said Jones.

“Where you live, who else lives there, and what’s happening around you in your local community can have a big impact on your health and the treatment you require.”

“We know that in regional areas like the Illawarra and Southern Highlands, goods and services are harder to come by – be it seeing a GP, a specialist, getting tests or treatment.”

“Our Medicare Locals were set up to tackle this problem head on. Having the planning and decision-making by people close to the action, who know what is happening in their local health system is so important.”

Illawarra Shoalhaven Medicare Local operates the two Headspace locations in the region, run the Antenatal Shared Care and Partners In Recovery programs, provide veteran’s care, dental services and health assessment plans for people with chronic disease, as well as suicide prevention programs and mental health services for children, youth, new parents and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders.  

“Our community-run Medicare Locals are doing a good job of keeping these people off the streets and out of hospital”, said Stephen Jones.

“Tony Abbott’s plan to axe the system will leave local patients and thousands like them around the country worse off.”

Wednesday 7 May 2014