What are Wide Bay's candidates plans for Gympie health?
GOOD economic management rightly remains the top priority as we consider casting our votes. Without it, it is difficult for a government to deliver upon anything else.
Of crucial importance to this election, is health policy.
I recently had the occasion to visit the doctor. Given my health issues, I probably should visit more frequently than I do but like many of us, it comes down to cost factors.
People don't plan to get sick, so people on a tight budget must find the impact of a visit to the doctor a bit of a financial shock, more so now than just a decade ago.
This week, a local practice on the Cooloola Coast placed a notice on its Facebook page that due to unforeseen circumstances, no doctor was available to service Tin Can Bay and Cooloola Cove patients. Their Rainbow Beach clinic would not be able to take the overflow. This notice was later updated to report that a doctor had quit and all his patients would have to go elsewhere, with the suggestion of trying Gympie doctors and the General Hospital.
Now that's all well and good if, without any warning, one is able to drive into Gympie, given that by the time the notice was posted, the daily bus into town had already left.
With the loss of private hospital facilities in Gympie, we certainly cannot afford any further degradation of our health care. We are supposed to be a growing region yet one gets the distinct impression that our health care needs are going backwards.
So what's on offer from the candidates for Wide Bay?
- LNP: Under the "Better Health Care” item, the current government is promising an additional $31 billion for hospitals. Expenditure to be committed over the next 5 years. In addition, $1.25 billion is promised for a Community Health and Hospitals program. The Coalition is also boasting of having boosted bulk billing by 4 per cent, ahead of Labor's pre-2013 effort. The current government is certainly justified in spruiking its having approved more treatments under the PBS than Labor did. The fact remains that during the last ALP time in office, new listings were postponed.
- ALP: Labor's health plans this election are as equally attractive as the Coalition's. On paper at least. A promise of $2.8 billion under its Better Hospitals Fund would deliver more medical staff and beds at a time when at least the Queensland ALP Government is struggling to deliver. Labor also aims to reduce surgery waiting lists. Again, its Queensland counterparts are overseeing an increase in that problem. The star point of Labor's health policy is its cancer care funding package. Coming at a time when we've seen the cases in the news of cancer patients becoming homeless, this policy is worthy of consideration by whoever forms government.
- The Greens: Surprisingly, The Greens are presenting a fairly comprehensive health policy. They aim to improve access to bulk billing services and health care delivered by locally run community health centres. However, their policy also aims to redirect funds away from subsidising private health insurance. That would prove problematic, considering we need a healthy private health sector to run alongside the public system.
- One Nation: Its website contains NO national health policy. Instead, under its sub-heading, it has only six health-related points listed. One point seeks to reduce Health Department bureaucracy and one point demands hospital and health centre maintenance programs be published. The other four points focus on medical marijuana.
- UAP: Clive's mega-millions advertising campaign comes at the expense of having a health policy. His website is notable for a complete lack of anything to do with health, apart from references to something that Dio Wang did when he was a Palmer United WA Senator back in the 2013-2016 Parliament.
- Fraser Anning's National Conservatives: This website contains a big picture of the leader in profile in front of fluttering flags and a paranoid manifest about people coming to get us. Absolutely nothing on health policy.
- Independent, Tim Jerome: This website is an aspirational one. There's nothing wrong with the aspirational, even if the deputy ALP leader isn't quite sure what that means. But the Independent candidate for Wide Bay is a bit short on policy, health included. To be fair, as an Independent he lacks the party machinery to advise and form a broadscope of policies. However, it would be nice to get a feel for what he feels about the current state of health care in Gympie and what he would try to improve.
With just two weeks left in this campaign, it would be interesting to know what all the candidates know about our current health issues and what they would aim to achieve, if elected.