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Government's Injection Of Health Funding Is Not Reaching Essential Front-line Services Which Are In Crisis

Today’s planned walk-out of essential general practice nurses is the direct result of the continued underfunding of general practice by successive governments and the repeated failure to provide funding to address the significant pay disparities between general practice nurses and their comparable hospital-based counterparts.

That’s the view of GenPro, the General Practice Owners Association, who represents around 400 of the general practices and urgent care centres whose services may be affected by today’s strike.

GenPro’s Chair, Dr Tim Malloy (pictured) believes that the underfunding of general practice services and the undervaluing of the general practice workforce is a significant reason behind the well documented pressures being faced by hospital emergency departments across the country. “A direct impact of the government’s real-terms funding cut imposed upon general practice and essential family doctor services in July 2022, is that many front-line services are now operating with reduced staffing and with reduced hours. That is bound to have a wider impact on patient care and Emergency Departments and we have previously warned the government that this would happen”.

A nurse working in general practice may be earning in excess of 10% less than an equivalent nurse working in a hospital setting. “That is insulting to our essential front-line nurses. Despite the continued rhetoric from this government about the importance of fair pay, it is itself responsible for a significant and unjustified pay disparity at a time when it is passing its own new fair pay legislation. It’s impossible not to see the irony in that”, said Dr Malloy

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Previous strike action, on this very same issue, in August and September 2020 resulted in a temporary and only-partial funding fix which GenPro believes failed to provide a permanent solution for employers or the nurses themselves. In the meantime, GenPro is extremely concerned that the government is prioritising hundreds of millions of dollars for the restructure of tiers of health managers whilst front-line services in general practice are underfunded and in crisis.

GenPro has directly written to the Minister and provided costed options for a solution to the pay parity claim behind today’s nursing strike. Previous correspondence to GenPro from the Minister has acknowledged that securing pay parity is a priority for the government but Dr Malloy echoes the concerns of GenPro’s members, stating, “We still have no funded solution despite hundreds of millions of dollars being invested in management reform in the meantime. That is incredibly insulting to our essential front-line nurses and the impact will continue to be felt by patients and across the wider health system until a solution is reached”.

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