Call for answers on cuts to health care in Ipswich
FEDERAL member for Blair Shayne Neumann has demanded answers on what he has called a trifector of bad decisions impacting the region's healthcare.
The MP raised three issues while in parliament this week, including the price patients are paying to see a GP, cuts to higher bulk billing incentives and changes to Ipswich's doctor catchment classifications.
"The official data that's been released by the health department to the senate recently shows people in the Blair electorate are paying an average out of pocket fee of $36 just to see GP," he said.
"Specialist out of pocket fees are also at record highs, an average at $79 just to see a specialist, up a staggering 50 per cent since the coalition came to power."
Mr Neumann went on to address the recent issue of cuts to higher bulk billing incentives in the region.
The changes came into play from January 1 after the boundaries which determine a rural or remote location eligible for the incentive was revised and redrawn, removing Ipswich from the list.
"I've called on the minister to reinstate the higher bulk billing incentive payments in Ipswich in the best interest in patients, doctors, nurses and allied health professionals," he said.
"Affordable and accessible health care is vital to the quality of life of people living in Ipswich and its surrounds.
"I wrote to the minister on the 8 of January this year and I look forward to his response."
The two health blows to the region followed changes to the way the Federal Government distributed doctors throughout the country.
Ipswich's surrounding areas were declassified from a District Workforce Shortage area to a Distribution Priority Area.
In September last year Minister for Regional Service Mark Coulton refused to reconsider Ipswich's classification.
"There is no provision to change the DPA status of individual locations," he said.
"However, should circumstances in an area change substantially, such as a dramatic reduction in the number of GPs employed in an area resulting in a substantial drop in health services to the community, the Department of Health will consider options to assist the community's needs."
Mr Coulton said a 'Distribution Advisory Group would handle "specialist advice" and review the Blair electorate's DPA status.
Mr Neumann said the minister needed to reconsider.
"People in the local area are really concerned. That's why I had the support of the West Moreton Health and Hospital service, the support of the Darling Downs and West Moreton PHN and my colleague and friend the member for Oxley in requesting the minister to look at this again."