Politics

Qld doctors seek Medicare, health reforms


Queensland doctors are urging the Albanese government to increase Medicare rebates and hold a national summit to resuscitate health-care systems that are no longer fit for purpose.

Public hospitals, primary and allied health-care facilities have been dealing with rising demand, lack of funding and procurement support and staffing shortages for years.

Those problems have further intensified during the pandemic and with the current flu season.

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Incoming Australian Medical Association Queensland president Maria Boulton says Medicare rebates are no longer keeping up with the costs of treatment.

“Patients are confronted with paying for a gap,” Dr Boulton told AAP on Friday, in her first interview since taking the role.

“And it’s important that we make sure that vulnerable people are not missing out and still have access to medical services.”

Dr Boulton said the incoming federal health minister must look at Medicare rebates and convening a long overdue national healthcare summit is “absolutely essential”.

However, she warned a national dialogue would only be worthwhile if governments listened to professionals and implemented their solutions.

“We’ve made submissions to the government before on mental health, on primary care and on ambulance ramping, and we haven’t seen those solutions implemented,” the AMAQ president said.

“So whenever there’s a change in government, it’s always a great opportunity to build on that collaboration, but we also need some action.”

On Friday, NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet urged people to stop calling ambulances for minor ailments with paramedics operating in a “constant state of crisis”.

In Queensland almost two in three people waited more than four hours to be admitted to emergency departments in the March quarter.

The number of ambulance patients being ramped climbed above 40 per cent, according to the same data, released on Thursday.

Dr Boulton described Queensland health system as “running on fumes”.

“Without real reform, this won’t (be able to) continue,” she said.

“You know, everyone or the hospitals, they’re all working … as if they are in a crisis, and you can only do that for so long.”

The state government has promised another “record health budget” next month, which is essential just to keep up with inflation.

The AMAQ president said more money alone won’t ease Queensland capacity pressures, and the government needs to try policies put forward by the sector.

“Of course the (health) budget needs to be bigger,” Dr Boulton said.

“But what would be great is that if they consulted with the peak bodies as to where that money would be best spent, rather than coming up with suggestions that practically may not work.”

She also said general clinics needed more state and federal government support with procurement and logistics for medical supplies.

The Queensland government could also offer better incentives to people to train as health workers, she said, and work in the regions.

“We need real reform in all areas of health care in order for Queenslanders to continue to enjoy the quality health care that they enjoy,” Dr Boulton added.



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