Labor promises 24 hour pharmacies


nurseLabor will fund 20 pharmacies to open 24 hours a day to reduce the burden on Victorian emergency departments.

Opposition Leader Daniel Andrews, says the $28.7 million promise would provide for a night nurse and security improvements.

“This is fresh thinking, it’s a new idea, it’s not something that’s been done previously,” Andrews told reporters on Thursday.

Andrews said the nurse would be available from 6pm to 10pm.

He said it would help families avoid going to the emergency room for minor health problems.

Andrews said more than half the people who attended emergency departments were category four or five patients who could wait hours for a simple solution.

“This will take the pressure off our overcrowded emergency departments, so doctors can treat the sickest patients more quickly,” he said.

It would also benefit low priority cases where a patient just needed to pick up a prescription or get simple help.

“There are so many Victorian families who have to go to the emergency department because there’s no other choice,” he said.

Under the Labor plan, five 24 hour pharmacies will open in the first year before the program is expanded.

The pharmacies will be spread across Melbourne’s suburbs and into larger regional centres.

He said pharmacies would go through an expression of interest process to determine where the 24 hour sites would be located.

But the Australian Medical Association has slammed the idea as an ill equipped and insufficient alternative to general practitioners.

“The reason why these substitutes are cheaper than general practice is because they are not trained to practice medicine,” Victorian branch president, Dr Tony Bartone, said.

“If the Labor Party wants to improve access to after hours medical services then they should fund the expansion of after hours GP clinics. It is that simple.”


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