How health poverty is hurting Rockhampton residents
POVERTY is pushing Rockhampton residents further away from healthcare, with thousands of locals unable to pay for the basics including dental, scripts and doctor visits.
Special NewsRegional analysis of federal health data shows 12,609 – 19.6 per cent – of local adults were unable to pay for basic dental treatment in the 2016-17 financial year.
The research also shows about 5018 – 7.8 per cent – of locals could not afford to have their medical prescriptions filled during the 12 months.
About 4 per cent of Rockhampton residents reported not seeing a GP because of cost. The average out of pocket expense was $9 to $38.
The Australian Medical Association’s Dr Sandra Hirowatari said health poverty was widespread.
“For example, one of my diabetic patients purchased both the medication and the needed glucose monitoring machine,” the chair of the AMA council’s regional and rural doctors committee said.
“But for her to follow my prescribed treatment, she had to go hungry (to pay for the medicine and machine).”
Australian Dental Association president Dr Hugo Sachs said the situation was compounded by the often long wait to access government-funded dentistry clinics.
Dr Sachs said lifelong impacts could flow from not having routine oral care – including the possibility of certain cancers.
“There is an opportunity here for governments to reduce waiting lists by increasing funding,” Dr Sachs said.
“Going without dental care can lead to significant problems for the patient and this will increase the cost on the health system.”
Pharmacy Guild of Australia’s Greg Turnbull said he was not surprised people were unable to pay for scripts.
“It is something that should concern health policymakers,” the PGA communications director said.
Queensland Council of Social Services CEO Mark Henley said medical poverty was not being adequately addressed by governments.
“There is absolutely no doubt that there needs to be greater investment in health services, particularly in regional areas,” Mr Henley said.
Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt’s spokesman said an expert committee was examining medical costs and the government’s plan to encourage more trainee doctors to move to regional areas would help in the long run.
Poverty is pushing our region’s residents further away from healthcare, with locals unable to pay for basics including dental.