Brighton walk-in clinic

Brighton is getting a walk-in health clinic.

We pushed the heart of this through the election campaign, so I give a huge shout-out to my buddy Troy Pfitzner, who ran with us for Lyons. He was out there pushing to get better health care for his home town way before the campaign started. The member for Lyons might have only picked it up a few days before polling day, but we're happy to run the country for Labor—no problem!

Our vollies and our candidates were out there for months, calling for better health care for everyone in Brighton and the Derwent Valley. You guys feel Tasmania's doctor shortages as badly as anyone. We've seen medical centres in New Norfolk close their books to new patients. Doctors are quitting and moving away. You can't get in to see a GP if you come down with a fever on a weekend. It's too bad if you have a temperature on a Saturday night. You're on your own. We look after sick people only during business hours.

That's why we came up with the idea of walk-in clinics in Tassie last year. Here's a secret for you: we got the idea from Canberra. There are walk-in clinics up here in the ACT. They've been around for years. Canberrans can walk into an urgent care clinic here and get help for cuts, burns and broken bones. You don't have to wait for hours, and you don't have to pay a cent. You get the help you need, and Canberra's hospitals and doctors' offices have one less person to see. We saw that and we knew it was what Tassie needed.

We need to find a middle ground between going to a GP and going to the hospital. And I'll pay credit to the government where it's due. They saw it too. I'm glad they're getting started. I only hope we go a bit further than what Labor has bookmarked so far. The budget sets aside $1.6 million to set up the Brighton centre, but there's nothing after that. It always makes me nervous when governments hand over money for one year and one year only. This thing will need staying power. We'll need to give support to the doctors and nurses who work there. We want them to choose to stay and make Brighton their home. Right now, GPs and nurses aren't choosing to stay. We can't get people to move out of the city and come to the country areas that are crying out for health care. This thing cannot work if we don't fix that. It's no good having a nice building if you can't fill it with people to do the work. I'm also worried that Labor says this thing is only going to be open for extended business hours, running until 6 or 7 at night. That won't be good enough. I want it to be open late into the night. You don't get to control when your kid gets sick. You can't help it if you wake up with chest pains and need help right away. You shouldn't have to wait to go in and see someone. Extended business hours isn't enough.

The last thing I want to see is for Labor not to follow through on its promise to bring three urgent-care clinics to our state. This walk-in clinic in Brighton would be a good spot for the first. I want to see the other two set up by the end of next year. Here are two spots for consideration. The first is Launceston. The Launceston General Hospital has the worst wait times in the country. In 2020 there were 9,000 patients in Launnie hospital who waited for longer than it's safe to wait. In one case, a grandfather with pneumonia sat in a plastic chair for nine hours because there were no free beds for him to lie down on. Every urgent-care centre in Launnie would give people somewhere else to go. It would take pressure off the A&E and give people help when they need help.

The other place we need an urgent-care centre is on the north-west coast. You cannot get in to see a doctor in Burnie right now. The books are packed. If you can't afford to pay out of your own pocket you'll be waiting even longer for an appointment. We need free options for people. Right now, people are putting off treatment, and it's only making things worse. 

Senator Lambie and I will make sure Tasmania gets its due when it comes to our health care. We have the lowest number of doctors per capita and our hospitals are falling to pieces. Let's hope we can all turn a new leaf in the healthcare industry, starting with the announcement yesterday.