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Labor’s worsening primary care crisis in Victoria

Joint media release

Senator the Hon Anne Ruston, Shadow Minister for Health and Aged Care, Shadow Minister for Sport
Senator the Hon Sarah Henderson, Senator for Victoria

The Albanese Labor Government is overseeing a serious primary healthcare crisis in Victoria which is making it harder and more expensive to see a doctor.

A recent report, released by Cleanbill, has confirmed a trend that has been evident for months – bulk billing is collapsing under Labor after being at record highs under the former Coalition government.

Cleanbill’s report states that there has been a ‘catastrophic’ reduction in the number of bulk billing options available across the country and that over 1.2 million Australians avoided attending a GP over the last financial year due to cost concerns.

In Victoria, the report shows the number of clinics offering bulk billing to all adult patients has reduced by 9.7 per cent, while the average out-of-pocket cost of a GP appointment has risen to $41.19.

This study follows the RACGP’s Health of the Nation report released late last year, which showed that the number of GPs who bulk bill all their patients has halved in just one year.

Senator for Victoria, Sarah Henderson, said the Albanese Government is overseeing the collapse of bulk billing at a time when local families are struggling to pay the bills, let alone cough up for an unexpected GP appointment.

“It is unacceptable that Labor is overseeing a collapse of bulk billing which is forcing some families to make the choice between accessing critical primary healthcare or putting food on the table,” Senator Henderson said.

“With our hospitals already overrun and facing serious ramping issues, the last thing we need in Victoria is for this health crisis to be made worse because patients cannot afford to see their GP.

Shadow Minister for Health, Anne Ruston, said bulk billing rates have dropped consecutively every single month since Labor came into government, with the latest quarterly data showing rates have plummeted to the lowest levels in over a decade.

“This government was elected with a promise to ‘strengthen Medicare’, yet all of the data is steamrolling in the opposite direction,” Senator Ruston said.

“This is a seriously concerning trend that Australians just cannot afford. Not only is it pushing up out-of-pocket expenses for families, but we also know that a weakened primary care system only increases the pressure on our over-burdened hospitals.”

Without urgent action from the government to address this concerning collapse in bulkbilling, access to critical healthcare will be increasingly at risk for the people of Victoria.

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