Budget cuts spur UOW academic Dr Kate Bowles into action

Taking a stand: Dr Kate Bowles

Taking a stand: Dr Kate Bowles

University of Wollongong academic Dr Kate Bowles is not usually one for placards and rallies, but the "damaging, divisive" federal budget cuts to healthcare have spurred her into action.

Dr Bowles, a communications lecturer, will be among hundreds of people at a Save Medicare rally in Wollongong's Civic Plaza on Saturday at midday.

She is attending not because she is unable to afford the Medicare co-payment, not even because she is undergoing cancer treatment, but because she believes a universal and accessible healthcare system is everyone's right.

The Abbott government's proposed $7 fee on doctor's visits will generate a $20 billion fund for medical research.

Patients who normally pay out-of-pocket expenses will get $5 less back from Medicare, while concession cardholders and children will only pay the fee for the first 10 visits each year.

"The changes to Medicare are going to really hit people who are already at a disadvantage, and they will end up costing this country more in the long run," Dr Bowles said.

"We should not have to choose between healthcare and medical research."

Dr Bowles was diagnosed with breast cancer after a visit to the GP and needs weekly blood tests. However, it was a trip to the doctor with her 15-year-old daughter that confirmed for her the real value of accessible health care.

"Under the proposed system, my daughter's visit would have cost $25 with fees for the visit, the pathology and diagnostics required and the medication."

"We should not forget that many teenagers earn a minimum wage if they're lucky, and not all of them have a family who can pay for them."

Federal Labor MPs Sharon Bird and Stephen Jones will speak at the rally, along with health professionals and South Coast Labor Council secretary Arthur Rorris.

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