Election 2016 is the Health Election

15022_0325Now that the election has been officially called it is vital that we ensure that healthcare is given a very high priority. Even though healthcare is regularly one of the key issues Australians think about when they head to the polls, it’s absolutely essential that we ensure it is the key issue this election.

The Budget handed down by the Turnbull Government last week (3 May) did nothing to change the radical cuts to healthcare proposed by the Abbott Government. In fact, the Turnbull Government’s budget ensures that healthcare loses more funding. Not only is the Turnbull Government going ahead with the freeze on Medicare rebates, the government is also keeping in place its decision to cut the bulk-billing incentive for pathology tests. These two measures will ensure that patients are being charged a co-payment when they see their GP; and then they’ll be charged an up-front fee to get tests done. There is absolutely no way for the Turnbull Government to spin this other than it being an attack on the healthcare of all Australians. And despite the strong rhetoric from the Turnbull Government, it is obvious that increasing the cost of seeing a GP and increasing the cost of pathology tests will somehow lead to a better healthcare system.

We’re already hearing rumours that GPs are charging co-payments and there are rumours coming out of Western Australia that St John of God has begun charging a $30.00 up-front fee for pathology tests.

The Turnbull Government is recklessly damaging our universal healthcare system for the sake of giving the big end of town more tax cuts. It’s galling to know that vulnerable people will be denied the healthcare they need so that big business pays even less tax, especially after the revelations that big business goes to great lengths to avoid paying their fair share of tax in Australia.

Since coming to power in 2013, the Coalition quickly set about wrecking the public healthcare system. In their first budget we saw the Coalition government slash millions out of healthcare funding; and the cuts didn’t stop in the budget handed down last year or this year. And as the Turnbull Government maintains and extends the cuts to healthcare it’s important to understand that each time the government cuts funding, it adds to the pressure you feel at work.

Each cut to funding means that our public health services are under more pressure to keep delivering world-class healthcare with much less. And as the pressure grows, public health services are being forced to make tough choices about how far they’re prepared to let our healthcare slide.

Let’s face it; the tough choices public health services are making are fundamentally about the future of our professions and the future of our work and careers. We know that when the pressure is really on, public health services will prioritise doctors and nurses ahead of medical scientists, dietitians, psychologists and pharmacists and others. Everyone working in healthcare is essential to giving patients the very best care possible so they can return to good health. By picking and choosing which clinical services will be cut, public health services are effectively determining the level of healthcare we will get.

Every cut to health made by the Turnbull Government has major flow on impacts for our health care and for our jobs. This election it is vital to that we ensure health is a top election issue.

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