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Wednesday, 2 November 2011
Page: 12572

Mr ADAMS (Lyons) (19:34): I would like to discuss the importance of primary health care in my electorate of Lyons. Firstly, I congratulate the government and the minister on understanding that the key to a healthy community lies in the community being able to access primary health care when they are seeking advice on preventive health and activities to keep them healthy throughout their normal lives. With this in mind, there are a number of really good projects that have been funded in Lyons. These are now in operation, or they are at various stages of completion and will come online soon.

In Sheffield we have worked hard through different tiers of government to achieve a very good new health centre, the second stage of which is coming together now. It includes a gym for seniors, which is geared towards people who have had little exercise and need to have a bit more exercise. They can do sitting exercises in which they can move their legs. It is important to have health centres that are dealing with preventive health and people who are learning to manage their own health conditions in the best possible way. In Deloraine we have had some funding, which will certainly improve the delivery of primary health care there. New Norfolk has done very well and we are doing something at Longford as well. I am also hopeful that, with interesting developments in both Brighton and Sorell, we will be starting something there soon as well. One of the problems with health systems in the past was that everyone expected to have a hospital on their doorstep. But with the changes in technology, machinery and skills getting so much more expensive—and our standards being much higher—we need to think differently. That comfort blanket that everyone thought having a hospital nearby gave them has changed. Now you need to get primary health care and, if you are really sick, be in the best possible hospital. That is no longer a small hospital in a country town, such as we had 50 or 60 years ago in Tasmania. Primary healthcare initiatives are allowing us to change the culture of health care. It will take some time to do that. The old hospital idea is very hard to shake, especially with the older community, but we have to convince people that the first port of call is the local medical centre and its services, which then refers clients to the best place to deal with their particular problems.

We still need our hospitals, but they need to concentrate on emergencies and on the high-level care required for really serious illnesses, accidents or emergencies, conditions such as heart attacks and strokes, and to do major operations. Those hospitals have the best expertise, machinery and brains to deal with people who are really sick. But you do not really need a hospital for a cut finger or removing a wart or taking out a splinter that has become poisonous. You can do those things in a different setting; you can do those things in a health centre in your own community. That is where we need to aim to get our local delivery. We can have medical centres, some after-hours delivery, Medicare Local—we are going in that direction. The National Broadband Network will help improve tele-health. New technologies will enable people to get faster assistance locally. I thank the government for the courage to change how we deliver health care into the future. It is certainly working in my electorate.