More services for after-hours patients as health, housing top Brisbane cabinet agenda

After-hours access to primary medical care will be extended as state and territory leaders meet to discuss improving health outcomes.

Apr 28, 2023, updated Apr 28, 2023
A payout to more than 20,000 junior doctors is expected to be the biggest wages theft in history. (File image).

A payout to more than 20,000 junior doctors is expected to be the biggest wages theft in history. (File image).

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese will convene national cabinet in Brisbane on Friday to consider health, housing, the NDIS, skills and the transition to net-zero emissions.

Ahead of the meeting, the government announced it would extend funding for after-hours programs that were due to end in June.

Funding will also go towards new programs to improve access to primary care services.

The money will come out of the Strengthening Medicare fund, to which the government committed $750 million in its October budget.

Social Services Minister Amanda Rishworth said grants that would allow for doctors to stay open after hours would be strengthened.

“This money for after-hours services will support them to stay open,” she told Seven’s Sunrise program on Friday.

“We’ve got a big job to fix Medicare, there’s no doubt about it, but we are committed to the task.”

Health Minister Mark Butler said bolstering Medicare and rebuilding general practice were the government’s priorities.

“Being able to access a doctor after hours is critical for patients to get what they need, when they need it, taking the pressure off hospitals,” he said.

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews said his priority was ensuring people in his state had fast and free access to local GPs.

“We urgently need to pay GPs more so Victorians pay less, increase university places to get a pipeline of new doctors across the nation, attract GPs from overseas to Australia faster and break down the barriers between primary care and our hospital system,” he said.

Deputy Liberal leader Sussan Ley said the Medicare system needed more support ahead of the national cabinet.

“Wrangling the state premiers has become a bit of a national sport,” she told Seven’s Sunrise program.

“People need access to doctors, and absolutely, that discussion today is a vital one. We do need to have our healthcare system back where it was.”

Mr Albanese said he had already had constructive discussions with premiers and chief ministers.

It will be the first national cabinet meeting for newly elected NSW Premier Chris Minns and the last before the federal budget in May.

Home Affairs Minister Clare O’Neil said the government would need to work closely with its state and territory counterparts after announcing an overhaul of Australia’s migration system.

“While the federal government controls our migration settings, a real partnership with states and territories is crucial to us getting this right,” she said.

“The fact that there is no genuine mechanism for us to plan for population changes, as a country, is a bit startling.

“When national cabinet meets, the prime minister will begin a conversation about how we could work together, as a federation, to plan better for housing, services and infrastructure.”

The Greens are calling for a national rent freeze to be added to the meeting agenda in a bid to quell rising rents and housing costs.

Leader Adam Bandt signalled a rent freeze needed to be on the table for the minor party to consider lending its votes to pass the government’s signature housing fund in the Senate, where it has stalled.

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