We all know that sinking feeling.
Your kid's come off a bike, screaming blue murder. Or your elderly father has woken up in the middle of the night with a menacing ache he can't explain. Or your partner has a high fever. You know they need urgent medical help, but in Tasmania, you don't know how long it'll be before they get it.
The federal government's promise to all Australians is that we'll get free, high-quality healthcare, whenever we need it. But that's not how things work in our state.
Here, elderly people die before they can see a doctor in an emergency ward. Here, we travel for hours, pay through the nose, and wait for weeks before we can see our closest GP. We rate our own health lower than Australians in any other state or territory on the mainland.
Something's got to give. But the solution isn't to give GPs extra money to charge more patients out-of-pocket costs, like the Tassie Liberals a re saying.
The solution is to take pressure off the nurses and doctors who work in our emergency departments. We have to give people an alternative, one that isn't in the A&E.
This is what I'm proposing: Launceston, the North-West Coast, and Hobart should have Urgent Care Centres that provide free medical care, fast.
You'd visit the centres for everything from cuts to burns, to broken bones, wound dressings, and a fever. They'd be run by professional registered nurses and would provide immediate, high-quality care seven days a week, including after hours.
You wouldn't pay a cent for any of it.
The centres would mean that you could get your child's broken bone in a cast, put your father's mind at ease, or cool your partner's fever, all without spending hours in a hospital waiting room.
And while you get looked after, people who need emergency help will get it. Instead of waiting for hours in an ambulance on the hospital driveway, they can see the hospital staff who might otherwise have been treating you.
The ACT is already successfully running this model. There's no reason we can't do the same here.
Because nearly 9000 people who showed up to the Launceston General Hospital with an urgent medical problem weren't seen on time last year. That's 9000 too many. It's countless numbers of Tasmanians waiting, anxiously, to see if their kids, parents, and partners are going to be alright.
No more. Urgent Care Centres are the shake-up we need. They're the solution that will finally deliver the healthcare every Tasmanian deserves.
- Jacqui Lambie, Tasmanian Jacqui Lambie Network senator