Saffin secures extra funding for flood-impacted medicos

Janelle Saffin MP has secured an extra $5million in funding for Lismore's primary healthcare providers so thousands of patients can continue accessing GP and specialist care as the city recovers from catastrophic flooding almost a year ago. The MP spent many months lobbying the NSW and Australian governments on the critical need for tailored support.

JANELLE Saffin MP has secured an extra $5 million in targeted funding for Lismore’s flood-impacted primary healthcare providers so local patients can continue to access vital GP and specialist care.

Ms Saffin says she has spent months lobbying New South Wales and Federal government ministers for a funding lifeline to help GP clinics, specialists and pharmacists rebuild and stay in Lismore.

“Our medicos came to me for help, identifying major gaps in the grants-led recovery process,” Ms Saffin says.

“The NSW Rural Doctors Network estimates that about 25 health businesses and services were impacted by the floods – 10 severely and 15 moderately.

“Damage bills for some of these businesses runs to over the $1-million mark, including the loss of life-saving medical equipment.”

Ms Saffin says she was concerned about thousands of patients whose health was at risk if these practices were forced to close their doors or relocate elsewhere.

“The potential losses to Lismore were unthinkable; two of our biggest GP clinics, a cardiologist, gynaecologist and dermatologist.

“If patients could not access services and be diagnosed and treated early, it could result in some very poor health outcomes and even in loss of lives.

“I worked closely with Lismore’s primary healthcare providers and peak bodies such as the Rural Doctors Network, the Australian Medical Association and the Pharmacy Guild of Australia to convince ministers of the need for more support.

“I also recognise Federal Member for Page Kevin Hogan for his bipartisan support in this campaign.”

Ms Saffin was pleased to host Federal Assistant Minister for Rural and Regional Health Emma McBride, representing Federal Health Minister Mark Butler, and NSW Minister for Health Brad Hazzard for a joint announcement of the additional funding at Lismore’s Keen Street Clinic.

Recognising the unique challenges that primary health providers in the Lismore community face, the Australian Government and the NSW Government will each contribute $2.5 million in targeted support for eligible providers.

The funding will be distributed in grants for general practices, allied health (including mental health), dental practices, pharmacies, private specialists, pathology providers, drug and alcohol treatment services and Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services in Lismore.

Grants of up to $150,000 will be available, with provisions to consider applications from providers with exceptional circumstances above that threshold.

Ms Saffin also hosted a mental health roundtable with Ms McBride, who is also Assistant Minister for Mental Health and Suicide Prevention.

PRESS CONFERENCE: Lismore MP Janelle Saffin makes some comments during the joint Federal-State funding announcement at Keen Street Clinic. She is flanked by Federal Assistant Minister for Rural and Regional Health Emma McBride MP and NSW Minister for Health Brad Hazzard MP.