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Family GPs to Subsidise Pathology Giants’ Profits

Australia’s Pathology industry is dominated by a few big players.

The government is moving forward with plans to introduce rent control to protect Pathology companies ie pathology collection centres located in general practices and other medical facilities.

“….saving pathology companies around $150 million a year, with most of this money being taken out of general practice.

GPs are already heavily burdened by a range of funding cuts….”

external link AMA Demads Fair Go for GPs with Pathology

16th May 2016

“..the Coalition’s announcement of a backroom deal to cap rent will create further strain on the ability of general practice to keep their doors open and provide patient services.

“…create an anti-competitive environment, where multi-national corporations who make hundreds of millions of profit each year are propped up, while GPs running small businesses lose funding.

Royal Australian College of GPs

16th Feb 2016

“Since deregulation the number of pathology collection centres has more than doubled from 2500 to more than 5000.

“It’s a substantial cost burden.

“The number of collection rooms has gone well beyond what would be regarded as reasonable access.

“…..There is “a degree of hypocrisy” in pathology companies complaining about the problem they created

The Rural Health Deficit

Extracts from fact sheet 13/5/2016:
  • There is a total health deficit in rural and remote areas of at least $2.1 billion a year.
  • This equates to a shortage of 25 million services, …
  • Adding the Medicare, PBS and ‘other primary care’ deficits …, rural and remote aged care deficit of some $500 million. ….
  • The total rural primary and aged care deficit is therefore likely to be around $3.0 billion.

external link National Rural Health Alliance Inc fact sheet 27

Extracts from fact sheet 23/6/2016:

The death rates for a range of diseases is higher in remote Australia.

Death rates from the major causes of death in Australia are significantly higher in remote communities when compared with major cities:

  • Land transport accidents – almost five times more deaths
  • Diabetes – three times the number of deaths
  • Suicide – twice the number of deaths
  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease – 60% higher death rate
  • Coronary heart disease – 40% more deaths
  • Lung cancer – 40% more deaths

People in remote Australia die around three years earlier than people in the city, this is despite there being fewer older people living in remote communities.

Accessing health care

• General practitioners

Access to a GP is one of the services that people living in remote Australia value as vital .. .there is around 20% less Medicare funded GP activity compared with the same population in the city.

• Specialists

There are 80% less Specialists in remote Australia when compared to the major cities.

• Dental workforce
Remote Australia has access to only one third of the number of dentists of major cities.

• Allied health professionals

Access to allied health professionals is also an issue in remote Australia, particularly with regard to ongoing treatment and management of chronic diseases and for rehabilitation and recovery from significant illness or injury.

Per 100,000 population, there are:
42% fewer pharmacists, psychologists (65% fewer), podiatrists (68% fewer), physiotherapists (51% fewer), optometrists (68% fewer) and occupational therapists (65% fewer)

• Nurses
In contrast to the poor distribution of most health professionals in remote Australia, nurses are fairly evenly distributed across major cities, remote and very remote Australia.

Difficulty accessing health professionals can have serious consequences.  Using diabetes as an example, we know that the role of allied health practitioners, particularly podiatrists, in preventing hospitalisations and amputations due to diabetes is critical.

Without access to health professionals, people in remote Australia may need lengthy stays away from home and may also jeopardise continuing recovery after returning home creating a vicious cycle of increasing ill health.

external link National Rural Health Alliance Inc The health of people living in rural Australia

Fact sheets on an extensive range of health topics, external link National Rural Health Alliance Inc

Concession to pathology companies

“The Turnbull government has neutralised a vocal opponent by promising to control spiralling pathology collection centre rents, which will boost margins for companies such as Sonic Healthcare and Primary Health Care.

………In the opening stages of a hard fought federal election, the deal is a win for the government, which has managed to pacify an opponent……..”

The government has in fact deferred the abolition of a bulk billing incentive until after the election.  The government’s attack on bulk billing has been criticised by many alongside comment that the pathology sector already makes handsome profits and the rebate system needs reform but that does not mean attacking bulk billing.

AFTINET Trade Justice Dinner, 17th May, 6pm, The Hellenic Restaurant, Sydney

An evening of delicious Greek food, entertaining speakers and great company at the annual fundraising dinner.

All proceeds will support AFTINET’s trade justice campaigns on the TPP and other trade deals.

Special guest Speaker:

Kelvin Thomson MP,  the Federal Member for Wills and the Deputy Chair of the Joint Standing Committee on Treaties (JSCOT)
You need to book, external link

Hear “Doctors without borders” speak on Medicines at AFTINET Public Forum, Sydney, 12.30 Wed 20th April 2016

Public Forum – Will the TPP survive the Australian and US elections?

12.30-2pm Wed April 20
Macquarie Room,
NSW Parliament House
Macquarie Street, Sydney

Speakers include:

Dr Patricia Ranald, AFTINET: The TPP and the Australian Election

US Public Citizen: TPP, Presidential Race and US Congress (by video)

Dr Jim Stanford, McMaster University, Canada:  Jobs and Workers’ Rights

Jon Edwards, Doctors without Borders (MSF): Medicines

Sarah Agar, CHOICE: Food Labelling and Product Standards

Limited places – please RSVP by April 19 to

The TPP trade deal between Australia, the US and 10 other Pacific Rim countries is being reviewed by a Parliamentary committee before Parliament votes on the implementing legislation. But the early recall of Parliament and possible election on July 2 will interrupt this process.

Community organisations representing over two million Australians, and over 300,000 individuals have urged MPs to vote against the TPP because it increases corporate rights at the expense of peoples’ rights.

Public opposition in the US is so strong that all presidential candidates are opposed, and it will not even be considered by the US Congress until after the November election.

This forum will discuss the TPP in the context of the Australian and US elections, and why Australian politicians should not rush to endorse the TPP legislation.

Public Forum Sydney, 14th March 6pm, Death By A Thousand Cuts: Turnbull’s Hidden War on Medicare

with special guest speakers
JOCELYN, Nurse and member of NSW Nurses and Midwives Association – speaking on how the cuts to bulk-billing for vital tests will damage our healthcare system and the quality of patient care
MEDICARE WORKER, member of the Community and Public Sector Union – speaking on how the possible Medicare payments privatisation will be a disaster for jobs, our healthcare system and our rights
+ time to discuss the next steps in the campaign

Not only will the pathology cuts mean we pay for x-rays, pap smears and blood tests, but the Turnbull government wants to sell off the Medicare benefits payment system to a private company. This, on top of billions of dollars in cuts to hospitals and health and the freeze on bulk-billing rates for GPs. Join us to hear from those on the front lines and find out what you can do to stop it.

MONDAY 14th MARCH 6pmNSW Trades Hall Training Rooms

377-383 Sussex St, Sydney

Call 0404 654 757 for more info/help getting in

Save Medicare Organising Meeting Sydney, 1st March, 6pm

We’re having an organising meeting this Tuesday night (1 March), at 6pm, at NSW Trades Hall (4 Goulburn St, enter via Sussex st).
Everybody who has been involved or is interested in getting involved is welcome to come.
We’ll be debriefing on the last rally and discussing future possibilities. If you would like to contribute to that discussion but can’t make it, feel free to email me or the organising list any thoughts.
Also, the NSW Nurses and Midwives have put together a great little video from the last protest – have a look: