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Thursday, 5 December 2013
Page: 1851


Dr SOUTHCOTT (Boothby) (10:39): For a long time, workers, nurses, GPs, allied health workers working in the primary care sector have understood the importance of coordinating care. Whether that is done in one facility, in a large family practice or a medical centre, or whether that is done through related sites, it is very important for the overall care of the patient. What I want to talk about is one of the misguided programs of the previous government, and that is the GP superclinic program. Like a lot of things the previous government did, this sounded great when it was first announced by Kevin Rudd in September 2007. But what sounded like a program relating to health was really a building program—and when you look at the results over six years they have been spectacularly poor in the delivery even of the building programs. After six years we have seen four bailouts and we have seen mismanagement, delays and cost blow-outs. For many of the commitments from the 2007 and 2010 elections, there are no buildings at all, just a vacant lot, an empty paddock, whatever. But for some of them where there are buildings there are still no doctors, no nurses. It is a little bit like that Yes Minister episode about the best-functioning hospital in the NHS: unfortunately, it had no doctors and no nurses, but it won an award for being the best run hospital in the NHS.

Of the 64 GP superclinics promised by the Labor Party, it is believed that 35 are open, one has been scrapped and there are four clinics which have required a total of $14.08 million in bailouts. A recent Australian National Audit Office report slammed the rollout of the first 36 GP superclinics promised by Kevin Rudd during his first stint as Prime Minister, with only three of the 36, or 8.3 per cent, opening on time. The fact that they were only able to get three out of 36 of these clinics delivered on time highlights how badly this program was managed.

One of the worst GP superclinics in Australia in terms of delays, mismanagement and bailouts has been the Redcliffe GP superclinic. The Redcliffe superclinic was promised by the Labor Party in October 2007. As at November 2013, more than six years later, incredibly, despite bailouts totalling $13.2 million for this clinic, it is still not operational. At the latest estimates, the department revealed that they are at fit-out stage now. So after six years what we have is a building that is now being fitted out, but has no doctors, no nurses, no nothing.

The ANAO report, which was released in June this year, showed that $650 million had been spent on this program. This included $117 million of primary health care infrastructure grants. There were clinics promised in 2007 which have not opened. I see the member for Bass is here. He might be very interested to know that they promised one at Sorell and later scrapped it. It just did not go ahead; they were unable to make it stack up. The ANAO report also shows that 54.8 per cent of the clinics announced in 2007 were located in marginal electorates and received almost two-thirds of the announced indicative funding. Established risk management measures were not used in managing the troubled Redcliffe GP superclinic rollout and that was also a factor in the failed Sorell GP superclinic.

In my own state of South Australia we have seen a $25 million spent on a GP superclinic at Modbury which only has 2.2 full-time equivalent GPs—and those GPs have recently left. At Noarlunga, $25 million was spent by the Commonwealth government and that clinic only has 2.5 full-time equivalent GPs and one full-time equivalent nurse. Those GPs were sourced from a large GP practice nearby, so there are no extra GPs working in the area. This program has been misconceived and has been disgracefully managed.