Street Doctor safe — for now

THE Barnett government has reiterated its long-term commitment to the Fremantle Street Doctor after its service provider and the state Labor opposition raised fears it was set to be axed.

The service is run by One Healthy Community (formerly Fremantle Medicare Local) and caters mainly to homeless people and others on the fringes of society.

Earlier this week OHC vice-chair Jim Codde revealed the organisation had received a letter last October from the WA health department advising funding would cease in June.

• Fremantle MP Simone McGurk discusses feared cuts to the street doctor with GP Karen Hooker and health shadow Roger Cook.

• Fremantle MP Simone McGurk discusses feared cuts to the street doctor with GP Karen Hooker and health shadow Roger Cook.

No reason for the decision was given, nor was there any invitation to submit a tender for future services, he said.

Labor organised a media conference for Tuesday to slam the cut but just as journalists arrived, so did word the department would put the service out to tender for a year.

Labor health shadow Roger Cook reckons if no-one had arced up, the service would have quietly disappeared.

But acting health minister Helen Morton says there was never any intention to abandon the service, which the Barnett government stepped in to save in 2009 when federal funding was cut.

“These claims are extraordinary — needless scaremongering that is causing more trauma for some of our most vulnerable citizens,” Ms Morton says.

“Nothing has changed — we own the two mobile GP trucks used in Fremantle and our long-term commitment continues.”

Ms Morton says the government is committed to the service and makes no apology for putting it out to tender.

Bashings spike

HOMELESS people say there’s been a spike in bashings which makes the street doctor vitally important.

Wally, waiting in a line of people 10-deep for a consultation outside St Patrick’s, says the rise of methamphetamine — ice — is behind the violence.

One of his friends, head swathed in bandages following a savage beating the night before, was awaiting treatment.

Karen Hooker,  a GP with the service for eight years, says a funding cut will kill homeless people.

She says many won’t turn up to hospitals or GPs for myriad reasons: they only attend the street doctor because it’s spent years building trusting relationships and earning street cred.


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