Federal Member for Bowman, Henry Pike, has called out the Albanese Government’s cuts to more than 70 types of telehealth services, saying the slashed services will adversely impact the health and wellbeing of people living in the Redlands.
Government changes, imposed from 1 July, mean vulnerable Australians are now unable to access important COVID-related telehealth services, including consultations over 20 minutes duration.
“The Albanese Government must explain why these items have been cut at a time when surging case numbers and rising cost-of-living pressures have created more demand for these essential services,” Mr Pike said.
“Labor acknowledges that we’re facing a dangerous ‘winter wave’ of COVID, and yet they are pulling the rug out from under vulnerable Redlanders who need access to telehealth services over the phone.”
"Telehealth funding will continue to be essential while high levels of COVID persist in our community. This service is an especially good solution for those living on the Redlands' islands, or those residents who are too frail, or unwell, to travel easily."
Since the start of the pandemic there have been 552,000 telehealth services delivered across the Redlands.
Mr Pike also noted that “in contrast to the former Liberal National Government, the new Albanese Government has rejected the advice of prominent health professionals and clinical experts, including the Australian Medical Association and the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners.”
“Here in the Redlands, and due entirely to this short-sighted decision by government, many vulnerable members of our community will be left without a quick, safe, and affordable way to access medical consultations during this persistent pandemic and ongoing public health crisis.”
“By withdrawing access to these telehealth items, Anthony Albanese and his government are undermining GPs’ ability to provide medical advice on the complex health needs of COVID-positive patients.”
The decision comes on top of the Albanese Government’s decision to end free Rapid Antigen Tests for concession card holders and a delayed reversal of their decision to cut the Pandemic Leave Disaster Payment.
“Local doctors and health workers are reaching out to me and letting me know about the real impact that these cuts are having on the ground here in the Redlands,” Mr Pike said.
“Our new Prime Minister is fast proving himself better than an Olympic gymnast when it comes to backflips. Given what is at stake in the Redlands - I would encourage Anthony Albanese to perform one more backflip by reversing his short-sighted decision not to maintain pandemic-related telehealth services.”
Earlier this year the Liberal and Nationals Government announced a $106 million investment over the next four years to support permanent telehealth services for patients and doctors.
Since early March 2021, the program has allowed GPs, specialists, and allied health professionals to consult with regular patients online or over the phone.
“This investment in the health and wellbeing of all Australians should be left in place and not callously ripped away by a Labor Government hungry for cash.”