Ms PATTEN (Northern Metropolitan) (11:33): My question is for the Minister for Health in the other place. The growing COVID outbreak in the north of my electorate has been hugely distressing for my community.
My office spoke to Dr Umber Rind, a GP in Craigieburn, yesterday. She is incredibly concerned that GP clinics keep getting closed down because they become exposure sites, which is limiting the government’s ability to deliver vaccines to the communities that need them most.
She said the best thing that the government could do would be to provide tents for GPs to set up pop-up vaccination clinics outside their offices to enable delivery of vaccinations separate to their other patients. Has the minister explored this option, and if not, can they? I have no doubt that there are many marquee hire companies sitting idle at the moment.
Ms SYMES (Northern Victoria—Leader of the Government, Attorney-General, Minister for Emergency Services) (11:34): I thank Ms Patten for her question, and whilst it is directed to the Minister for Health and I indeed will seek an answer to that, it would be worth just clarifying a few things in relation to the vaccine rollout.
I certainly share your concerns that the pockets of unvaccinated Victorians unfortunately are lining up with where a lot of COVID cases are, and that is indeed alarming. That is why the state-based system is rolling out pop-ups. It is why we are expanding our hub system.
Your suggestion around support for GP clinics is a separate issue because the rollout of vaccines through GP clinics is run by the federal government. We are hoping that any unused vaccinations from the GP clinics come back to our state hub delivery services.
We are delivering, and the percentages of what we are delivering as a state system are far exceeding what we signed up to, but it is because the state-based systems have been so successful that people have really embraced them.
We have got such great staff that are willing to work enormous hours to facilitate the wants and needs of people desperate to access their vaccinations.
The other program that is rolling out and that will start to ramp up as Moderna becomes available is the pharmacy provision. Again, this is a federally run program, so the state has certainly picked up the slack everywhere they can.
We are doing well more than we agreed to do with the federal government because we recognise how important this is. In relation to the GP suggestion that you make, it is very, very squarely and centrally the federal government’s responsibility.
Ms PATTEN (Northern Metropolitan) (11:36): Thank you, Minister. While I certainly understand that vaccines going into those GP clinics is a federal matter, the fact is that in Northern Metropolitan we are getting nearly two-thirds of the infections, and many of those people are actually preferring to speak to their GPs. Some of them have got concerns about vaccination, and there may be language barriers et cetera.
So while I commend the government on the pop-ups that we are seeing in our electorate, I do think that GPs can play a role, and I think that wherever the state can help we should be.
By way of supplementary, could the health minister advise how many GP surgeries have been designated tier 1 and tier 2 sites during 2021?
Ms SYMES (Northern Victoria—Leader of the Government, Attorney-General, Minister for Emergency Services) (11:37): In relation to Ms Patten’s specific question around the tier 1 and tier 2 sites, I am sure that that material will be available and the minister will be able to provide that. I will just bring to the house’s attention further information in relation to the community pop-up vaccination program, which is targeting 100 priority postcodes, including many in the north for the reasons that Ms Patten has indeed identified.
I will take the opportunity to encourage anybody in those areas or anywhere in the state to go and get vaccinated and indeed check in on your neighbours and make sure that they know how to access it.
I know that a lot of community members are standing up and really helping to get the message out there to people that are a little bit difficult to contact. But in relation to your GP question, I am sure the Minister for Health will be able to provide an answer in relation to those figures.
Fiona Patten MP
Leader of Reason
Member for Northern Metropolitan Region
Question without notice 14/9/21