Urgent care clinic promise

URGENT PROMISES: Labor have pledged to build an urgent care centre in Mount Gambier. Labor candidate Mark Braes pictured recently with Senator Don Farrell.

Charlotte Varcoe

A MEDICARE Urgent Care Clinic will be established in Mount Gambier if Labor wins the Federal election on May 21.

As part of a $135m nationwide election promise, Mount Gambier’s inclusion in Labor’s plans for 50 Urgent Care Clinics around Australia was announced this week in a joint statement from the Shadow Minister for Health and Ageing, Mark Butler, and Labor’s candidate for Barker, Mark Braes.

Designed to take pressure off hospital emergency departments, a Medicare Urgent Care Clinic is aimed at treating minor emergency cases.

According to Labor’s statement, the Medicare Urgent Care Clinics would be based in existing general practitioner clinics or Community Health Centres and treat sprains and broken bones, cuts, wounds, insect bites, minor ear and eye problems and minor burns.

Mr Braes said he believed Mount Gambier was chosen as one of the sites for a pledged Medicare Urgent Care Clinic due to its population base across the region.

“It is fair to say every candidate across the nation who put their hand up for this would be pleased to receive this funding,” he said.

“I’ve been advocating for a Labor Medicare Urgent Care Clinic for the South East because the Mount Gambier Hospital services a large community and its emergency department is already under significant strain.

“[Mount Gambier] is a sensible area because we are located in a substantially populated area and I am grateful that the Labor Party is looking at the South East.

“It is further evidence that the region is considered when funding is being allocated in the health field, whether it be at a State or Federal level, and it is good to see we are getting the attention.”

Labelling the announcement as “logical”, Mr Braes said it would allow improved access to medical care in a more timely manner.

“This is yet another investment that will help the health service industry in the area and I am not currently aware of anywhere else in the Barker electorate that will receive a clinic,” he said.

“If successful it could be an additional investment down the track but we will have to see what happens.”

He said there would need to be a large amount of work to establish the clinic in Mount Gambier including consideration of where it would be established; whether at the Community Health Centre or at a general practitioner’s surgery.

“From a general practitioner perspective, the clinic would have to be something that would work for them and there would be a fair amount of work that will go into having appropriate staff,” Mr Braes said.

“There would also be substantial work being done to understand what clients would attend the clinic and the realistic demand that would happen.”

He said he understood the clinic was expected to be open from 8am until 10pm seven days a week but was unsure about staffing ratios.

“When the funding was announced it really struck me as a positive initiative,” Mr Braes said.

“It will help take the pressure off emergency departments and allow more minor but still critical problems – particularly in children – to be handled in a different way while taking the pressure off the emergency departments.

“Being bulk-billed, nobody would be fearful of going to these places and I think it is a very positive initiative and I am pleased Mount Gambier and surrounding areas will have access to it.”

Shadow Minister for Health, Mark Butler said: “Medicare is the bedrock of our health system and by using it to help take the pressure off hospital emergency departments we can make the whole system stronger”.