Health under Scott Morrison?

Scott Morrison. Source: Facebook.
Scott Morrison. Source: Facebook.

Will the change in leadership bring a change in health policy? Stakeholders have welcomed the new PM and re-appointment of Greg Hunt as Health Minister

Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced his new ministry on Sunday, with Greg Hunt holding onto the Health portfolio in the new cabinet after tendering his resignation to former PM Malcolm Turnbull last week.

This decision will come as good news to AJP readers, who voted Mr Hunt as their preferred choice for Health Minister.

The Pharmacy Guild was also pleased with the decision, as was the PSA.

“We welcome the re-appointment of Mr Hunt as Health Minister, and look forward to continuing to work with him on a range of issues in the pharmacy sector, for the benefit of patients,” said a spokesperson for the Guild.

“PSA welcomes the reappointment of the Hon Greg Hunt as Minister for Health. As the professional peak body for pharmacists, we look forward to continuing our discussions with him on pharmacists’ roles, recognition and remuneration,” said the PSA.

Pharmacy favourite Greg Hunt has retained the Health portfolio.
Pharmacy favourite Greg Hunt has retained the Health portfolio.

AMA President, Dr Tony Bartone, said on Monday that the AMA is pleased Mr Hunt has been re-appointed in the role.

Dr Bartone said that the health portfolio is broad and complex, and it takes time for Ministers to get fully across all the issues and get acquainted with all the stakeholders.

The Consumers Health Forum of Australia welcomed Mr Hunt’s continuing role as Health Minister, “to maintain continuity on health initiatives including reviews of the Medicare Benefits Schedule, reforms to primary care and out of pocket costs, and embedding My Health Record as a key feature of a modern health care system”.

They also signalled Scott Morrison could pose a strong positive force in the health arena.

Leanne Wells, CEO of the Consumers Health Forum, pointed out that in Mr Morrison’s first media conference after winning the leadership, he said he is “distressed by the challenge of chronic illness in this country, and those who suffer from it”.

He also mentioned affordable medicines, aged care, and Medicare as priorities.

“Mr Morrison is to be congratulated for putting his finger on one of Australia’s significant but often overlooked health issues,” said Ms Wells.

“The challenge of chronic illness Mr Morrison refers to can be more effectively countered by more comprehensive and coordinated services in the community provide close to home.

“We urge Mr Morrison and Mr Hunt to ensure the government builds on its Health Care Homes Programme and Primary Health Networks. These are Coalition-initiated schemes in need of more financial support and commitment from the Federal Government.”

However Labor leader Bill Shorten and deputy leader Tanya Plibersek reminded voters of health funding cuts that occurred while Mr Morrison was treasurer.

“Scott Morrison was the architect of all the policies that proved Malcolm Turnbull was only for the top end of town,” Ms Plibersek told The Guardian.

“[He] wouldn’t know a fair go if he tripped over it. This is the bloke who cut schools, cut hospitals, cut pensions, all so he could give a tax cut to the big banks.”

There were a few changes in the health arena as part of Mr Morrison’s cabinet reshuffle.

Senator Bridget McKenzie, Deputy Leader of The Nationals, was promoted to an extended portfolio.

This week she will be sworn in as Minister for Regional Services, Sport, Local Government and Decentralisation this week.

“The Regional Services portfolio is a continuation of my current portfolios of Rural Health and Regional Communications,” said Ms McKenzie.

“I’m thrilled to be able to continue our work on delivering more doctors and digital connectivity to regional Australia.

“There are some exciting developments coming up in these areas, including the delivery of the National Rural Health Strategy and the National Ice Strategy, further work on obesity and delivering the Murray Darling Medical Schools Network, keeping regional medical students in our regions,” she said.

Ken Wyatt continues to be Minister for Indigenous Health and also takes on the role as Minister for Senior Australians and Aged Care (formerly Minister for Aged Care).

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