10 June 2020

It is good that the Federal Government has today finally announced that it will extend the National Partnership Agreement on Public Dental Services, after months of calls from Labor. However it is very disappointing this extension is for just one year.

Labor consistently urged the Government to ensure these services do not cease on 30 June, only three weeks away.

But a one year extension is not enough for the vulnerable Australians who rely on public dental services for care.

By the Governments own numbers the NPA has provided services to 763,000 Australians since 1 January 2017.

Disappointingly the announced one year extension guarantees only 180,000 patients public dental services over the next year.

With waiting times for public dental already over 12 months in most states, someone who needs care today may not be seen under this scheme at all.

This Government lacks a long term vision when it comes to affordable dental health care.

As the Australian Healthcare and Hospitals Association have said today:

While this extension is welcome, can Minister Hunt assure Australians who rely on public dental services that we wont be facing the same uncertainty yet again this time next year?

Already there are over 70,000 potentially preventable hospitalisations each year due to people skipping dental services, while two million Australians avoid dental care due to cost every year.

And lets not forget the fact that the Liberals have already cut the NPA on Public Dental Services by nearly $300 million per year.

Australians want and deserve a health system that is fair and accessible for all.

Australians deserve long term certainty for affordable health care including dental health care.

It is time this Government took action on the uncertain long term funding, record out of pocket health costs and wait times happening on their own watch.