Roxon tells doctors to become more competitive

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Ms Roxon has also denied claims that one super clinic set up in the marginal seat of Dickson, in Brisbane’s north, was a tactic to oust Liberal National Party incumbent Peter Dutton.


She made the comments as she toured the seat’s Strathpine GP Super Clinic amid claims established doctors are suffering.

Dr Morris Williams, who runs a mixed billing practice in Strathpine, says the clinic is affecting the number of patients moving through established practices.

The Australian Medical Association has raised similar concerns saying, grants for super clinics are giving some in the sector a huge advantage.

“We’re not against the concept; we’re against unfair competition,” AMA national vice-president Steve Hambleton told The Australian.

“You are giving someone a huge leg-up to out-compete people who don’t have any subsidy and have been investing in their suburbs for years.”

But Ms Roxon was unapologetic, saying super clinics were an important strategy to ease pressure on hospital emergency departments.

She said the Strathpine super clinic was not aimed at ousting Mr Dutton, the Opposition’s health spokesman, from a seat that is now notionally Labor after an electoral redistribution.

“There’s plenty of work in this community. It defies belief that a doctor couldn’t sustain a practice,” Ms Roxon told reporters.

“The announcement was made before Mr Dutton had ever even considered health policy.”

She added: “I would urge anyone … to look at their own billing practises, their opening hours, because there is a huge demand for GP care.

“If practices are losing business there’s questions they should be asking about the services they offer. This was a competitive process, local GPs were able to apply and the best applicant was chosen.”

But Dr Williams said the Strathpine super clinic was being used as a political tool.

He said the government should explain why it had provided a $2.5 million grant to set up the Strathpine clinic when the area’s medical needs were well met by existing GPs, and why a second super clinic was being built at nearby Redcliffe.

“None of them are that busy,” he said.

“The reason is that Peter Dutton holds the seat by a very slim margin, that’s my view anyway.

“It’s a waste of taxpayers’ money.”

But Strathpine Super Clinic director Evan Jones said Dr Williams was suffering from “sour grapes”.

“Dr Williams’ practice was one of those which applied to become a part of the super clinic,” he said.

“So it seems strange that he would now be critical of the program. This is a catalyst for other clinics in the area to lift their game.”

Dr Williams said he had no objection whatsoever to fair competition but super clinics should be going to areas of genuine need, not sites like Strathpine which was well serviced by 24 GPs providing the full gamut of services, including after-hours and weekend care.

Ms Roxon said capital grants of up to $500,000 announced in the May Budget were available to help private doctors expand their clinics.

“We can’t have a super clinic on every corner … but we have a lot of GPs who are ready to do more, to train the future work force and need infrastructure help to be able to do it.”