On 14th May 2015, a steering committee member of the Hunter GP Association, Dr Steve De Lyall, was interviewed on ABC 1233 Local radio. He spoke to Jill Emberson about the imminent threat to the GP Access After Hours Service. Click on the link, and fast forward to 12 minutes and 22 seconds to listen to the interview.
As quoted in Medical Observer, 'Dr Tony Isaac, chair of the Hunter General Practitioners Association, said members of the 170-member group were more concerned about the indexation freeze than they had been about the co-payment proposals the government had been forced to drop. “We think it’s a co-payment by stealth,” he said. “It will be unviable for GPs to continue to bulk-bill, so the government will get what they wanted.” Dr Isaac said with the traditional GP business model likely to become unviable, some practitioners have started talking about introducing payment tiers for patients; for example, by distinguishing patients on a health card who have some income from those who don’t. Most at risk were solo practitioners who lacked economies of scale.
“These are the guys traditionally with big patient loads on lower incomes in rural towns,” he said. “But GPs are pragmatic people. A GP who is bulk-billing 40 people a day could shift to seeing just 20 patients a day and private billing, and make the same money. But there would be 20 patients who are not being seen...It is another example of how primary healthcare needs to be supported...And GPs will have more of a battle selling [the cost shift] to the community.”'