SUNRISE: 13/4/22

April 13, 2022



DAVID KOCH, HOST: Now Labor is promising to take the pressure off hospitals if it wins the election. It's pledging to trial urgent care clinics at GP surgeries and community health care centres. They treat Australians for things like broken bones, minor burns and stitches for cuts instead of waiting hours to be seen at emergency departments. Treatment would be bulk billed to Medicare. For more. I'm joined by the Shadow Minister for Health and Ageing and Mark Butler.

Mark, why only 50 locations across four years?


MARK BUTLER MP, SHADOW MINISTER HEALTH AND AGEING: We think 50 locations will give us a really good sense about how this model works, David.

It will make it cheaper and easier to see a doctor and as you said, importantly, take pressure off our hospital systems which are heaving under unprecedented levels of demand, particularly those minor emergencies. The broken bone when your kid falls off the skateboard, the thing in the eye, the burn, the deep cut that needs stitching.

We need a level of care somewhere between standard general practice on the one hand and hospitals on the other, and this will give that level of care. Seven days a week deep into the evening, so open from 8:00 AM to 10:00 PM with specially trained nurses, doctors and allied health professionals.

And as you say, importantly, completely free of charge. Bulk-billed, because we're seeing gap fees in general practice skyrocket over the last 10 years.


KOCH: But does this avoid the actual issue, which is the hospitals? Should there be more focus on actually resourcing up the hospital so we don't need these super clinics?


BUTLER: The most important thing a Commonwealth Government can do, that has responsibility for Medicare, is to take pressure off our hospitals and what we're focusing on in this announcement are those minor emergencies that can be cared for outside of a hospital. The sorts of things I talked about. They don't need a fully equipped emergency department.

Those emergency departments are set up for the once in a lifetime emergency. Your very serious car accident, your heart attack, your stroke and suchlike.

But what we see is about 4 million presentations every single year of what they describe as “non-urgent care” or “semi-urgent care.” The sorts of cases that could be quite adequately dealt with out in the community if we just had the right level of care.


KOCH: Mark, gee I hope this announcement will get the campaign back on track after Albo’s sort of stutter on the election campaign, the stumble not knowing those key economic figures.


BUTLER: Anthony made a mistake. We all make mistakes. There's not a politician I know who hasn't made a mistake at one time or another. But importantly, he stuck his hand up and took responsibility for it, as I think Australians expect their leaders to do.

Now of course I think what Australians want is for us to get back to outlining our plans for a better future and strengthening Medicare is going to be right at the centre of those plans for Labor.


KOCH: Okay, Mark Butler thanks for your time.


BUTLER: Thanks, David.