AMA calls time on flawed GP Super Clinics Scheme
The AMA has called on the Federal Government to immediately axe its flawed GP Super Clinics program and direct unspent funds to help upgrade existing general practices, after the Auditor-General confirmed the scheme was badly designed and delivered poor value for money.
An Australian National Audit Office (ANAO) report found that the $600 million GP Super Clinics program has been dogged by serious cost overruns and lengthy delays, and many of the clinics have been built in areas already well served by doctors and other health professionals.
The Auditor-General found that only three of the 36 clinics promised in 2007 were completed on time, with seven still not operational, while just one of the 28 announced in 2010 is fully functional.
AMA Vice President, Professor Geoffrey Dobb, said the results confirmed the AMA’s long-standing concerns that the program was poorly conceived and was a bad use of scarce health funds.
“The report shows that the program has been very poor value for money,” Professor Dobb said.
“That money would have been much better spent on the Primary Care Infrastructure Grants program, which the Auditor-General last year found to be delivering excellent results.”
Under the Primary Care Infrastructure Grants program, $117 million has been allocated over four years to upgrade 425 GP facilities. By contrast, the Auditor-General found that two GP Super Clinics alone had cost taxpayers $50 million, and several more had needed substantial top-up funding.
The ANAO found there were inadequate processes in place to assess what effect Super Clinics would have on existing primary health services, whether they provided value for money, and whether they were achieving any meaningful improvements in access to health care.
Professor Dobb said it was time for the Government to stop throwing good money after bad.
“Obscene sums have been spent on these clinics for very little demonstrable benefit,” he said.
“It is time to put a stop to the waste and direct the funds that can be salvaged to where they will do the most good.”
21 June 2013
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Published: 21 Jun 2013