Michael Moffett: The Coffs Coast 106.3 Triple M its Moffee with you this morning. The news coming out this morning about the cost when you go to see a GP. To talkmore about it let's bring in the New South Wales Senator Tim Ayres is on the line. Tim, good morning.
Senator Ayres: G'day Moffee, good to be on the show.
Michael Moffett: News out today they're saying that the cost of non-bulk billed GP appointments likely to increase from today with the AMA recommending doctors raise their fees. But it's the same day that the Federal Government's bulk billing incentive payments begin as well.
Senator Ayres: Well we're pushing, pushing hard in the opposite direction to back Medicare, to strengthen Medicare, extend bulk billing, and in your listening area, there's two really relevant measures that we're taking. One is to open the first Urgent Care Clinic in Coffs Harbour. Now we promised in opposition that we would open these centers promised that we would open in Coffs Harbour. It'll be open for business over the course of November. And what that means is that patients who would normally present to the emergency at the hospital, you know with an injury or an illness that requires urgent care, but non emergency care, they will be able to present to this center in Coffs Harbour and all they will need is their Medicare card. And so they will be bulk billed for those services. So that center is going to be located in CHC medical there on the Pacific Highway in Coffs Harbour. That is a big initiative, it means that now where there's currently only one bulk billing GP, in your listening area, this will be a very significant medical center that will provide seven days a week care for people all they will need is their Medicare card.
Michael Moffett: Tim, tell us about the bulk billing and the changes there.
Senator Ayres: The second thing we're doing, Moffee, is a range of other measures. We're tripling the bulk billing and setting so additional kind of support GPs, understand that costs are going up for GPs as well. We are tripling the bulk billing incentive for concession card holders. And for kids under 16. That means it will be you know provides a real incentive for GPs to offer those bulk billing services for 11 million additional Australian so it's big news for us, Labor doing what we're always, always been about and that is strengthening Medicare.
Michael Moffett: Two days ago, the Tamworth Medicare Urgent Care Clinic opened, that brings it to eight now that have opened across the state another six, including obviously this one in Coffs Harbour, I know myself, on two occasions, now where late in the afternoon, I've had to you know, get medical care but because my GP and GPs will close your only option is to go to emergency this does take that stress off those hospitals, doesn't it?
Senator Ayres: Well 46% of presentations at the local hospital for urgent care not emergency care. So this will be as you say, it will take pressure off the health system which is you know, always under pressure those doctors in emergency care at the hospital, nurses, the workers who support them always under an enormous amount of pressure. So this is a smart policy, it takes the pressure off them but it also means that for patients, they've got access to care that's appropriate. You know, and your listeners know any of our listeners who have got little kids, they don't get sick in business hours. In fact, things go wrong with kids, invariably at times when GPS aren't open and there's a big queue at the GP all of the time. This means in the urgent care centre. It's conveniently located there on the Pacific Highway. There's plenty of parking and all you will need is your Medicare card.
Michael Moffett: Now obviously Coffs Harbour, is there a finalized date yet of when it will be opened? Just it'll be sometime between now and the end of the year.
Senator Ayres: It'll be seeing patients over the course of November. So this is we it will it will certainly be up and running through November, bulk billing incentivea today. All of those other centers, the six or so additional centers to open across New South Wales will be open by the end of the year. Now, this has been a big body of work for Mark Butler, the Health Minister, to work through with the states and territories to make sure we're not only delivering on time, but delivering in a careful way so that everything works. So that all of the all of the arrangements that need to be put into place are put into place. So that works been done with the New South Wales government and with the Primary Care Network, the center will be open seven days a week, initially between eight and eight. So you know, it's a significant extension of, of the service. And over time, we'll see if it can be open for longer hours, you know, provide more and more service.
Michael Moffett: Yeah. Fantastic. It's great news Tim. Mate, thanks so much for taking the time to have a chat to us on the show this morning.
Senator Ayres: Always happy to talk to you and your listeners, Moffee. Take it easy.