West Australian GPs have fired back after Premier Mark McGowan blamed a reduction in bulk billing doctors and the refusal of some practices to see patients with respiratory conditions for a surge in hospital emergency department presentations.
During a press conference on Monday, the premier defended WA’s health system, describing it as “world-class”, but acknowledged it was under pressure from an increase in respiratory syncytial virus in children, furloughed staff, and difficulties in recruiting medical workers from overseas.
“Many doctors aren’t bulk billing anymore, and therefore people are going to emergency departments, a lot of doctors aren’t seeing people because they don’t see respiratory cases anymore, they are not allowing them into the GP practices,” he said.
“These things are all creating a perfect storm out there that is common across Australia.”
The latest broadside follows a radio interview last month when the premier said pressures on the state’s hospitals could be attributed to “signs on the doors of GP clinics” advising patients with respiratory symptoms to visit a hospital emergency department.
The premier also claimed earlier this year that GPs were “driving more people into our hospitals”.
Royal Australian College of General Practitioners president Karen Price said the premier was avoiding accountability for pressures within the state’s hospital system.
“Here we go again, this is like Groundhog Day,” she said.
“It’s unacceptable to blame general practice for an overburdened state hospital system.