VHPA Secretary Craig McGregor takes centre stage at the Save Medicare Rally – you can view other rally pics here

Health Professionals rally to save Medicare

More than 1,000 people turned out on Saturday to rally in support of Medicare.

The size of the crowd was very positive considering the event was called at short notice and many people are out of town and on holidays.

The rally included an impressive contingent of Health Professionals who joined with nurses, doctors, healthcare workers and the wider public to voice their support for free and universal access to primary healthcare.

VHPA Secretary Craig McGregor was one of the main speakers at the event, explaining why Health Professionals oppose the Coalition Government’s possible introduction of a compulsory co-payment fee.

“Fundamentally it is a question of equity, with Australians on low incomes and those who are disadvantaged having just as much right to high quality healthcare as those who are well-off.”

“It is also a question of efficiency, with evidence-based research showing that fees are an extra barrier to primary healthcare that simply create higher costs for treating people who become more ill by delaying a visit to their GP,” said Craig McGregor.

Don’t deter GP visits: VHPA letter to The Age

In the following letter to The Age newspaper, VHPA Secretary Craig McGregor takes issue with a recent opinion piece by Terry Barnes, the author of the proposal to introduce a $6 GP co-payment for bulk-billed services:

Dear Editor

Making people think twice about seeing their GP will only lead to worse health outcomes and greater costs for the community in the long-run.

This is contrary to the views put by Terry Barnes, the author of the Australian Centre for Health Research’s proposal for a $6 GP co-payment for bulk-billed services (Terry Barnes, The Age, 14 Jan 2014).

We already know, from State Government research, that many Australians, especially men, use health services less and at a later stage in illness.

Charging a compulsory fee will add to their barriers and make it harder to access primary healthcare for those in regional areas, on low incomes, or who have chronic health problems.

It will undermine the universality of Medicare, one of Australia’s great strengths.

The overall cost of healthcare is also likely to rise, as it is more expensive to treat people with advanced ill-health.

Instead of toying with a $6 GP fee that will doubtless be increased by a cash-strapped government down the track, we need to tackle the greatest inequities and inefficiencies.

Top of the list should be more investment in measures to drive better hospital engagement with multi-disciplinary health teams, including allied health and the community health sector.

This will reduce hospital admissions and drive down the costs of emergency care, one of the fastest growing areas of taxpayer expenditure.

It is another reason why the Victorian Premier, Denis Napthine, should intervene to ensure a speedy resolution to Community Health Enterprise Agreement negotiations.

Yours sincerely,

Craig McGregor
Secretary of the Victorian Health Professionals Association


Keep Health Care Free – sign the petition

medicare-petition2VHPA members are encouraged to sign an online petition to help save Medicare.

The Keep Health Care Free petition is being supported by a wide range of unions and already has more than 4,000 signatures.

It points out that “Introducing a fee for a visit to the doctor will hurt all Australians and will unfairly target the sick, the elderly and families.”

The petition is addressed to Prime Minister Tony Abbott, as the Coalition Government has refused to rule out the introduction of a compulsory GP visit fee.

>> Click here to sign the Keep Health Care Free petition