GP 'emergency' is political stunt, says O'Neill
NSW Senator Deborah O'Neill has labelled the declaration of a GP emergency on the Peninsula a "desperate political stunt to sweeten a bitter pill".
Senator O'Neill said the focus of the Federal Member for Robertson, Ms Lucy Wicks, on the shortage of GPs on the Peninsula was to "distract attention from the disaster she and her colleagues have inflicted on the community in the past four years.
"The acute shortage of doctors on the Peninsula and the threat to the health of its people is a crisis of Lucy Wicks and the Liberals making," Senator O'Neill said.
"By Ms Wicks' own admission in her speech to Parliament, the Coalition made the issue part of its Growth Plan for the Central Coast in the lead-up to the 2013 election.
"Lucy Wicks and two Health Ministers have had the chance since 2013 to give the people of the Peninsula the health care they require and done nothing.
"Now she has suddenly decided it's an emergency.
"Essentially, Lucy Wicks has sat on her hands, let a problem become a crisis, then turned the horse around to claim to be the shiny white knight.
"In fact, she is being faced with the terrible impact of her own government health policies."
Senator O'Neill said this would be Ms Wicks' second attempt to fix her mess, with the community's health at stake, with a second health minister.
"Ms Wicks failed last year to persuade the former Minister, Sussan Ley, that there was an acute shortage of doctors on the Peninsula, and that the sick and frail were being turned away from surgeries there.
"On that occasion, Ms Wicks' approaches were rejected by Minister Ley who bluntly stated in a letter dated November 23 last year: 'Woy Woy and the Peninsula are not considered to be districts of workforce shortage'."
Senator O'Neill said this was despite concerned local medical providers, back in early September, making urgent representations to Ms Wicks and the Turnbull Government warning of the shortage of doctors on the Peninsula was nearing critical levels.
"Six months later, that critical level has now been breached," Sen O'Neill said.
"Leaving Ms Wicks' negotiating abilities with her Liberal colleagues aside, what is really at stake here is that the problems on the Peninsula are just a localised symptom of the Liberals' concerted attack on Medicare and the health system, in general.
"The Liberals' freezes, cutbacks and confusion are a key part of what has caused this crisis on the Peninsula.
"It is shameful she has now embarked on a cynical campaign to promote herself as 'the fixer' to the very problem she and the Liberal Government have created. She must think the community is stupid.
"The people of the Peninsula know that on Lucy Wicks' watch they're paying more out-of-pocket health costs than ever and their health is being compromised by her Government's failures."
Media release, 2 Mar 2017
Scott Coomber, Office of Deborah O'Neill