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'Comments unbecoming' - Miles under fire for GP slur

Politics

Liberal National Party leader David Crisafulli is demanding Queensland’s deputy premier apologise to GPs for his “petty slur” blaming them for public hospital capacity pressures.

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Deputy Premier Steven Miles on Wednesday said emergency waiting times and ambulance ramping had increased because patients with respiratory illnesses were being turned away by GPs fearful of COVID-19.

“Many GPs are declining to see people with respiratory illnesses, sometimes before they could get a COVID test, sometimes not at all, and that is driving lots and lots more people to our emergency departments,” he told reporters in Cairns.

Royal Australian College of GPs president Dr Karen Price defended doctors against Miles’ charge, saying it was unfair.

“GPs and general practice teams have done a tremendous job in very challenging circumstances throughout the COVID19 pandemic … we are there for our patients every day. And we deserve better,” she said on Twitter.

Crisafulli said Miles should apologise for his comments, which were “unbecoming of the Office of the Deputy Premier”. He described the barb as an attempt to dodge responsibility for capacity problems in state-run hospitals.

He said blaming the primary and allied health providers, which are a federal responsibility, was also a political attack.

“It was petty and it was a slur, and nobody wins when governments descend into political mudslinging,” Mr Crisafulli said on Thursday.

“So what we’ve had for two years, it’s been the GPs who have clung and held together a system that’s fracturing, and two days before an election they were treated like a punching bag.”

On Wednesday, Health Minister Yvette D’Ath said capacity pressures were due to COVID-19 patients and health staff isolating, longstay patients who could not access the NDIS or aged care packages needed to go home, and capacity pressures on primary and allied healthcare providers.

“Demand pressures have caused the public health system in Queensland to become the provider of last resort,” Ms D’Ath said.

“When you can’t afford private health insurance, when you can’t get into private specialists, when you cannot access GPs, when you cannot get an NDIS package, when you cannot get the support you need in aged care, you turn to the public health system.”

She called on the next federal government to match the state’s funding for health care 50-50.

The LNP leader said on Thursday solutions could include better triaging, decentralisation, publishing transparent data in real-time and giving doctors and nurses more autonomy in decision making.

The Queensland government has promised to release hospital admissions data by the end of the month, but Mr Crisafulli said the delay was embarrassing.

“We can’t even tell you what happened at the start of January in the middle of May, in the middle of the biggest health crisis this state has seen,” he said.

“Surely that’s alarm-bell territory for the government.”

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