The RDAQ is calling for bulk billing services to continue once the coronavirus pandemic is over.
The RDAQ is calling for bulk billing services to continue once the coronavirus pandemic is over.

Why medicos say we need bulk billing in Mackay

BULK billing incentives for rural doctors should continue in a post-pandemic community to ensure patient care is continued.

Rural Doctors Association of Queensland president Dr Clare Walker said rural doctors were continuing to campaign for the bulk billing incentives to continue post COVID-19.

The lack of bulk billing GPS in the Mackay region continues to be a problem for the community with ongoing calls for reform of the system by the Federal Government.

This issue is worsened by the lack of incentives for doctors to set up practices in the remote areas of Mackay and elsewhere in rural Queensland.

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"Our position is that anywhere there is limited access to general practice there really needs to be an incentive to encourage GPs to practice in those areas and the biggest need is in the remote areas," Dr Walker said.

"The federal government needs to first and foremost concentrate on providing incentives for GPS to work in the most remote areas but that should be extended to regional centres if the need is there.

"It makes no sense for people in rural areas to have to travel hundreds of kilometres to get repeat scripts and to consult with their GPS.

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"Some of the areas around Mackay such as Clermont have had difficulty in retaining quality rural GP practices in the area and creating incentives for GPs to stay in those types of communities is really vital."

Bulk billing at the height of the coronavirus pandemic improved the ability for rural practices to reach their patients through telehealth.

Slade Point Medical Centre was one of the few medical practices in Mackay which started complete bulk billing consults on April 1.

They would continue for the next three to six months, with monthly reviews depending on the COVID-19 situation.

Minister Mark Coulton, who met with health professionals in Mackay, Bowen, Ayr and Proserpine earlier in the year, said the Coalition Government proudly continued implementation of its $550 million Stronger Rural Health Strategy.

The strategy gives doctors more opportunities to train and practise in rural and remote Australia, and gave nurses and allied health professionals a greater role in delivering multidisciplinary, team-based primary care.

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