Television interview with Minister Butler and Matt Shirvington, Sunrise - 4 April 2024

Read the transcript of Minister Butler's interview with Matt Shirvington on Medicare Urgent Care Clinics major milestone of 250,000 visits; cost of living relief.

The Hon Mark Butler MP
Minister for Health and Aged Care

Media event date:
Date published:
Media type:
General public

MATT SHIRVINGTON, HOST: More Aussies than ever before are turning to Medicare Urgent Care Clinics. About 250,000 visits have been made to 58 federally-funded centres since June last year. The facilities are meant to take pressure off emergency departments by treating people with less urgent medical needs, but some doctors are suggesting parts of that funding would be better served going to grassroots GPs. For more, we're joined by Health Minister Mark Butler. Good morning to you, Minister. Well, given how many people are using these urgent care clinics every day is there a business case to keep the funding going?
MINISTER FOR HEALTH AND AGED CARE, MARK BUTLER: We'll certainly be keeping the funding going. Indeed, we've already committed to expanding this model. This has been a real gap in Australia's healthcare system, Matt. I mean, many countries overseas have this idea of an urgent care clinic, which is somewhere between standard general practice, on the one hand, and a fully-equipped hospital, on the other. It's for those non-life-threatening emergencies that happen at home, happen at work. Your kid falls off the skateboard and breaks their wrist – instead of spending six, eight, even ten hours in emergency, you're able to walk into a Medicare Urgent Care Clinic that's open seven days a week and be seen very quickly, at no charge whatsoever. Importantly, these things are completely bulk billed, and they've already been a very, very clear success.
SHIRVINGTON: So more on the way, that's good news. However, the Royal Australian College of GPs has said it would like to see some of that money, some of that funding, going to grassroots practices instead.
BUTLER: We tripled the bulk billing incentive for general practice last year in the Budget. That's $3.5 billion, the biggest ever investment in bulk billing. Because, for us, this was not a choice. This was not two alternatives, we were able to do both here. We came to government promising to strengthen Medicare. We've tripled the bulk billing incentive, which has already had a very serious impact on bulk billing in general practice. We've opened this network of Medicare Urgent Care Clinics, that's meaning that people can get the care they need, when and where they need it in the community and already, we know, is taking pressure off our crowded emergency departments. And we've made medicines cheaper as well. I said, when I came to government as the Health Minister, I had no higher priority than rebuilding general practice after a decade of cuts and neglect. We're not even two years into government yet, and already we're starting to see that turn around.
SHIRVINGTON: Minister, before you go, the PM will today speak at a national business summit and is expected to announce a cost of living boost. What can struggling families expect?
BUTLER: Already right at the centre of our plan for this year to relieve cost of living is making sure that every single Australian taxpayer gets a tax cut on the 1st of July. And for the vast, bulk of Australian taxpayers, that will be a substantially bigger tax cut than they were otherwise going to get. But the Treasurer, the Prime Minister, has also said that small businesses, which is the group he's speaking to today, but also obviously Australian households and their struggle with this global cost of living crisis, is front and centre as we're preparing the Budget to be delivered in May.
SHIRVINGTON: We'll be watching that speech today. Mark Butler, thanks for your time.

Help us improve

If you would like a response please use the enquiries form instead.