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Monday, 21 May 2012
Page: 4737


Mr O'DOWD (Flynn) (13:48): I have recently been contacted by the directors of the Biloela Medical Centre regarding their concerns over the lengthy delay in payments under the Practice Incentives Program. Biloela is a key township in the Dawson/Callide region of my electorate that relies heavily on its own local health services. They built these services with their own money. It has been brought to my attention that it has taken over seven months to receive payments they are entitled to under the program via Medicare, since the establishment of their practice in July 2011. The medical practice is absolutely vital to the town and surrounding areas—they are few and far between in these regions. Their staff are dedicated, loyal and committed to serving their community.

The directors have tirelessly pursued this matter as these funds are vital to a start-up practice such as theirs. Their practice is being driven into the ground by lack of funds. They themselves have cited the biggest issue preventing them from solving the problem as being 'the lack of transparency and responsiveness of the agency'. It astounds me that such a practice could be under threat of closure due to such bureaucratic toing and froing. I urgently call on the health minister to examine the efficiency of the Practice Incentive Program to ensure that delays of payments do not threaten the survival of such medical practices.