Returning to fairness in medicare and public health

ANMF Media Release: Canberra, Australia. 5 April, 2019.

Opposition Leader Bill Shorten’s pledge to restore $2.8 billion to our health system and inject $2.3 billion into Medicare to improve cancer services and reduce out of pocket costs for checks, treatments and medicines will provide much needed relief for our country’s under-resourced public hospitals and increase access to the health system for many, according to the Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation (ANMF).

Federal Secretary Annie Butler said the ANMF and its members welcomed the Opposition’s commitment to reinvesting ‘every single dollar’ stripped from public hospitals, restoring penalty rates and improving wages and superannuation for women, saying it would bring fairness and greater equity to our community and help support our overworked nurses, midwives and carers, but noted there is still more work to do.

“Our members working in health and particularly aged care, are struggling to cope, forced to do more and more, with dwindling frontline resources.  Unfortunately, it means they’re not always able to provide the quality of care that people need and deserve, particularly those older Australians living in nursing homes who continue to suffer while governments delay taking action,” Ms Butler said today.

“The ANMF welcomes the Opposition’s announcement of a $2.3 billion ‘Medicare Cancer Plan’, with millions of free scans, diagnostic tests, MRIs and bulk-billed specialist consultations. With out-of-pocket costs for consumers that are well above the OECD average and which deny equal access for all to our universal health care system, this is a great first step in bringing fairness back to the system.

“We also welcome the announcement of $1 billion for TAFE, including 20,000 places for aged care and disability workers, and the range of measures aimed at increasing equality for women by recognising their contributions to society, valuing their work and providing them with fairer opportunities.

“More work is needed however, to bring fairness back to the some of the most disadvantaged in our community. This is especially so for elderly Australians in need of care and support, both in their own homes and once they have had to move into residential care.

“As we move towards a federal election, we look forward commitments from the Opposition to improve fairness for elderly Australians by guaranteeing that they too will have access to much needed affordable, quality care wherever they are.”