Doctors fight to keep Aboriginal program

Blue Mountains GPs have called on the federal government to continue funding a local Aboriginal health program they fear is at risk in the May budget.

The Healthy for Life program provides co-ordination for health services, financial support for access to health care services, improved health literacy and a follow-up service to ensure that patients attend appointments.

“Healthy for Life is an integral component in closing the gap in the discrepancies between health outcomes for Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal Australians,” said chair of the Blue Mountains GP Network, Dr Louise McDonnell.

“This program has been operating in the Blue Mountains for three years now and we are seeing an improvement in health outcomes for our Aboriginal patients.

“Many Mountains GPs are concerned that the positive improvements that we are seeing for Aboriginal patients will be compromised if Healthy for Life is cut. 

“We call on the Federal Member for Macquarie, Louise Markus, to lobby for ongoing funding for this essential program in the May budget.”

While stopping short of guaranteeing funding for the program, Mrs Markus said she has lobbied the health minister directly to have it continued.

“I am an advocate of this program and recognise its unique role in the delivery of critical health services in the Blue Mountains,” she said.

“During a recent address in Parliament House I spoke about the success of this program in helping to close the gap. I have made direct representations to the Minister for Health, Peter Dutton, about this initiative and its importance for the region of the Blue Mountains.  

“I would like to see the funding continued and have made my support of this program known to the minister and his office.”