Nurses and midwives are to join a protest in Sydney against proposed changes to Medicare.
Acting General Secretary of the NSW Nurses’ and Midwives’ Association (NSWNMA), Judith Kiejda, says nurses will turn out in numbers to a rally in defence of Medicare at the Sydney Town Hall at 1pm (AEDT) on Saturday.
A National Commission of Audit in late December received a proposal for a co-payment scheme for GP consultations.
Doctor groups and political parties have criticised such a move, claiming it would destroy Medicare and limit access to GPs for some community groups.
“Wage and salary earners pay the Medicare levy to make that possible – so anyone can get treatment whether they are rich or poor,” Ms Kiejda said in a statement.
“Money should never be a barrier to medical care in Australia.”
Ms Kiejda likened the move to the Howard government’s unpopular Workchoices legislation.
“That cost them the very next election,” she said.
“An attack on Medicare, forcing pensioners and everyone else to pay to see a doctor when they have already paid a levy for years, that will have exactly the same result.”
Federal Health Minister Peter Dutton said he would not comment on “speculation around what the Commission of Audit may or may not recommend”.
“The commission’s work is still being compiled and will be provided to the government in 2014,” he said in a statement last week.
“The government will be able to consider any recommendations and respond after that time.”