Reclassifying Murwillumbah from a regional to a metropolitan categorisation has been criticised by both local councillors and federal MP Justine Elliot.
Tweed Shire Labor councillor Reece Byrnes is calling for a reversal of the decision by federal minister for health Greg Hunt at the Tweed Shire Council meeting on 20 February.
‘Under the current Modified Monash Model (MMM) Murwillumbah has been reclassified to a metropolitan area (MMM1). This crazy decision could potentially see a decline of bulk billing rates and incentives for young doctors to come to the town to practice,’ said Councillor Byrnes.
Mayor Katie Milne and Deputy Mayor Chris Cherry have also come out in support of the reversal of the decision.
‘I support Cr Byrnes call on this very important issue,’ Mayor Milne told Echonetdaily.
‘The implications for provision of affordable and accessible health care for this region could be significant. Murwillumbah is a lower socio-economic demographic with many people already struggling to meet day to day needs. People simply wont go to the doctor if they cant afford it, and their health will suffer.
Murwillumbah could hardly be considered a metro area. Metro areas are built up areas well serviced by all manner of things including public transport which is certainly not the case here.’
Federal MP Justine Elliot has also written to the Federal Minister for Health, Greg Hunt, regarding the reclassification.
‘The Liberal-National government has changed the classification of Murwillumbah from regional to metropolitan,’ said Ms Elliot.
‘This will be detrimental to the delivery of health and medical services in our region. Given the significant negative health and economic outcomes for the local community, I’ve written to the Health Minister, Greg Hunt to urgently change this classification.’
According to Cr Byrnes under the metropolitan classification Murwillumbah potentially faces a decline in a range of health programs including rural bulk billing Incentives, workforce incentive programs and the Bonded Medical Program.
‘The classification to MMM1 also means medical practices in Murwillumbah will only be available to General Pathway registrars and no longer to Rural Pathway registrars,’ said Cr Byrnes.
‘This decision is not only just crazy, it’s dangerous and will have disastrous effects on local health outcomes for residents’
‘Everyone that has ever been born in, lived in, visited, or passed through Murwillumbah knows it is not a city like Sydney and Brisbane, it’s a country town.’
‘I’m calling on my colleagues to support the community and residents in Murwillumbah and ask the Federal Minister for Health Greg Hunt to make a common sense decision to reverse the classification.’
♦ The Federal Minister for Health Greg Hunt was contacted for a response