OPINION

Meryl Swanson: Canberra Matters

The Vaccine has arrived, and the roll out is underway, but how quickly will the vaccine make its way to the regions?

It may be some time before many of us will be eligible for the vaccine. As reported last week, the Hunter region has unfortunately missed out on being among the first to receive hubs for the COVID-19 Vaccine as part of the initial phase of the national rollout.

This concerns me for many reasons, but the most pressing being that we have vast GP shortages across our region following the government's cuts to rural recruitment incentives.

This week I have written to Greg Hunt, Minister for Health, about the vaccine roll out.

I have asked the questions that aren't being answered, will people need to register, and if so, how will they be expected to do this? When will the Vaccine be made available to our region, and will this be via vaccine centres and/or through the local GP?

Many doctors in our region have had to close their books because they are in such high demand, with many patients waiting weeks for an appointment.

My concern is how the doctors across our region will find the time to deliver the vaccine. I am deeply concerned that so many doctors are overloaded with growing patient waiting lists. For many practices recruitment continues to be an uphill battle.

As a community, we deserve to know what this government will do to ensure we aren't left behind.

Last year, much of my time was spent meeting with the Ministerial team responsible for regional health and lobbying them to support local General Practices with vital recruitment needs.

As the Federal opposition, we support the government in its commitment to vaccinate all Australians before the year's end. However, we need a clear road map outlining how this is to be delivered.

Unfortunately, regional health has many unaddressed issues that outdate the Covid pandemic.

I encourage local practices to get in touch with my office if they are not being informed by the relevant channels in the interim.

My office is available to assist and will continue to inform the community as new information comes to light.

Meryl Swanson is the Federal MP for Paterson. Contact her office on (02) 4983 2401 or via merylswanson.com.au.