8 May 2024

Victorian Government’s ‘$10 million bandaid’ won’t save general practice care: GPs

| Kim Treasure
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young girl having a bandaid put on her arm

Peak general practice groups are calling for more action from the Victorian Government. Photo: File.

Peak general practice groups say the Victorian Government’s $10 million to support GPs is welcome recognition of the devastating impact of the state’s Patient Tax, but it won’t save general practice care or help Victorians with the cost-of-living crisis.

The 2024 Victorian Budget includes $10 million to support GPs through a co-designed grant program.

The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP), Primary Care Business Council (PCBC), and Australian GP Alliance (AGPA) have repeatedly urged Victoria’s Premier to intervene in the state’s GP payroll tax system.

Practices claim they will have to raise fees by 30 per cent to cover the extra tax, and four per cent of patients will go to hospital rather than a GP if they have to pay more.

READ ALSO https://psnews.com.au/union-begins-industrial-action-to-end-victorian-hospitals-overreliance-on-overtime-and-agency-nurses/134045/

RACGP, PCBC and AGPA are calling for:

  • no retrospective collection of payroll tax liabilities, which they say will cause practice bankruptcies and closures;
  • Victoria to follow Queensland and provide a new tax ruling, clarifying that patients’ fees paid directly to a GP for their services won’t be subject to payroll tax;
  • a compliance period to allow practices to adjust to the new ruling so they don’t have to pass the tax on.

RACGP Victoria Chair Dr Anita Munoz said: “While any investment in general practice care is always welcome, the Victorian Government’s $10 million to support GPs will not save us from the Patient Tax – it’s like putting a bandaid on a patient who’s lost both their legs.

“This State Budget will worsen the cost-of-living crisis for Victorians and is a huge disappointment to GPs, practice teams and our patients. The government knows practices can’t afford the state’s extra payroll tax, and neither can their patients.

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“General practice helps people stay healthy – everyone needs a GP. Victoria’s Patient Tax will be devastating for our health system. When people can’t afford care, they get sicker, and we’ll see more Victorians forced into the state’s overflowing hospitals, which will rapidly blow out the State Budget.”

PCBC President Dr Ged Foley said this was a “golden chance” for the Victorian Government to send a message to the community that they were doing all they could to address cost of living pressures.

“Instead they’ve ensured going to the doctor will get more expensive, if you can find a local GP with the doors still open,” he said.

“Victorians should be prepared for further crowding at hospitals and local GPs to be at breaking point.”

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