Liberal National Party leader David Crisafulli is demanding Queensland’s deputy premier apologise to GPs for his “petty slur” blaming them for public hospital capacity pressures.
Deputy Premier Steve Miles on Wednesday said emergency waiting times and ambulance ramping have increased because patients with respiratory illnesses are being turned away by GPs fearful of COVID-19.
“Many GPs are declining to see people with respiratory illnesses, sometimes before they could get a COVID test, sometimes not at all, and that is driving lots and lots more people to our emergency departments,” he told reporters in Cairns.
Royal Australian College of GPs president Dr Karen Price defended doctors and said they need the full support of state and federal governments.
Ms Price said while some practices have the capacity to see patients with respiratory symptoms, some do not due to precautions such as physical distancing, PPE and resourcing.
“Now is not the time to throw blame at GPs and general practice teams, we are doing our best in very challenging circumstances and need the full support of all levels of government,” she said in a statement.
Mr Crisafulli said Mr Miles should apologise for his comments, which were “unbecoming of the Office of the Deputy Premier” and blaming the primary and allied health providers, which are a federal responsibility, was also a political attack.
“It was petty and it was a slur, and nobody wins when governments descend into political mudslinging,” Mr Crisafulli said on Thursday.
The deputy premier took to Facebook on Thursday to clear up comments he believes were taken out of context, and thanked GPs and doctors for their work that often goes unrecognised.
But he took aim at the federal government, saying the state wouldn’t be in this position if they would invest more in primary healthcare.
“It’s unfair that the Morrison Liberal Government has walked away from Primary Health care. It’s their job to make sure there are enough GPs, enough appointments and that everyday people can get an appointment close to home that they can afford,” Mr Miles wrote.
On Wednesday, Health Minister Yvette D’Ath said capacity pressures were due to COVID-19 patients and health staff isolating, long-stay patients who could not access the NDIS or aged care packages needed to go home, and capacity pressures on primary and allied healthcare providers.
“When you can’t afford private health insurance, when you can’t get into private specialists, when you cannot access GPs, when you cannot get an NDIS package, when you cannot get the support you need in aged care, you turn to the public health system,” Ms D’Ath said.
She called on the next federal government to match the state’s funding for health care 50-50.