Member for New England, Barnaby Joyce has again called on Health Minister, Mark Butler to address a crisis in the delivery of health care services in the electorate.
Following the threatened closure of the Uralla Medical Centre due to accreditation issues, Mr Joyce has gone into bat to save medical practices in Armidale.
Mr Joyce said that from next month the number of doctors serving Armidale could reportedly drop by more than a dozen for reasons including retirement and relocations.
“I’m told the West Armidale Medical Centre could close leaving 4,000 patients without a GP and that the University of New England Medical Centre, with approximately 3,000 patients will be reduced to just one GP for three days a week.”
“This is totally unacceptable in a city like Armidale, in a country like Australia,” Mr Joyce said.
“The reduction in the number of doctors will place an additional burden on our already stretched hospital services, and on the doctors that remain as patients seek medical care.
“I am calling on Health Minister, Mark Butler to do whatever he can to address this dire situation,” Mr Joyce said.
“Consideration should be given to reversing the Labor Government’s decision on the Distribution Priority Area. The decision took away the requirement for international medical graduates to work for a period in rural areas where there is a greater need for GPs.
“The Federal Government could also “unfreeze” the Medicare rebate for GP consultations and specifically provide a grant to the West Armidale Medical Centre to cover the cost of locums while it continues to seek permanent GPs.
“The Health Minister cannot ignore the plight of thousands of Armidale residents who face an uncertain future regarding their health care.
“I have written to the Minister, highlighting the crisis and I await his response,” Mr Joyce said.