GP fee will impact on health access, say Salvos

A LAUNCESTON man reliant on benefits and battling a drug addiction yesterday said increasing the cost of visiting a GP could prevent him from seeking medical assistance.

Chris, who preferred to go by his first name only, said there were times when he didn't have the funds to buy prescriptions even without an added cost.

``It sucks, I was speaking to my cousin about it this morning, and we're already battling now for $6 for a prescription,'' he said.

Chris said the Salvation Army was the only organisation to help him after everyone else had ``given up''.

The organisation yesterday released the results from its annual Economic and Social Impact Survey, which found that 24 per cent of respondents could not afford medical treatment when needed, 29 per cent did not have a secure or decent home, and one in four were unable to afford a substantial meal at least once a day.

The Salvation Army's Bruce Redman said the $7 GP co-payment introduced in last week's budget was of particular concern.

``While for most Australians a fee of $7 might not sound like much, for someone who lives on less than $35 per day, including their housing costs, this is yet another burden on their already fragile financial situation,'' Dr Redman said.

Chris said it felt that the ``richer get richer and the poorer get poorer''.

``I battle from fortnight to fortnight.

``They tell us to get a job but there's no jobs here (in Tasmania), especially when you have a drug habit or criminal record.''

Chris urged Tasmanians to dig deep or join this weekend's Salvation Army's Red Shield Doorknock Weekend: ``Without them I'd probably be back in jail or dead.''

Salvos Doorways facilitator Kelly Brown and a client.  Picture: GEOFF ROBSON

Salvos Doorways facilitator Kelly Brown and a client. Picture: GEOFF ROBSON


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