The Greens have announced a plan to build 200 free public health clinics across Queensland, so that every community has access to free primary healthcare including a GP.
Each clinic on average will be staffed with 10 GPs and 15 nurses in addition to dentists, psychologists and allied health professionals including physiotherapists, with all staff to be publicly funded and salaried.
The public health clinics will be built over four years, with services tailored to the particular community’s needs, and priority given to areas currently lacking access to a bulk-billing GP and primary health care.
The total cost of the policy will be $5.8 billion over four years and will be funded by the Greens plan to raise royalties on mining corporations, which will raise $55 billion over four years. Additional savings will be made by reducing the burden on public emergency departments.
Greens MP Michael Berkman:
“Many communities across Queensland don’t have access to basic primary healthcare like GPs, physios or dentists and in a wealthy state like Queensland that’s unacceptable.”
“The State Government’s failure to invest in community based primary healthcare means our emergency departments are regularly overwhelmed, in particular during standard flu seasons.
“The Medicare rebate is far too low for many doctors to provide a bulk-billing service, so the Greens will establish 200 public health clinics with free publicly funded and salaried GPs in every community.
“Our plan will reduce pressure on hospitals and ensure every Queenslander has access to universal, free public healthcare.
“Employing and paying public GPs will ensure that, rather than having to churn through as many patients as possible in a day to earn an income, doctors will actually have the time to follow up with patients and give appointments the time they deserve.”
In 2019 there were over 200,000 visits to emergency departments by patients who presented with a non-emergency health concern - known as ‘category 5’ in The Australasian Triage Scale (1). In other words over 200,000 people presented to ED with health issues that could have been treated by a GP. Every category 5 presentation to an Emergency Department costs the Queensland Government $524. This means the total cost of category 5 patients to Queensland Health last year was $107 million (2).