Key groups call for "immediate assistance"

Health system needs "immediate assistance" say peak bodies

Key medical and nursing organisations have called on all political parties to make significant changes ahead of the Federal Election on May 21.

Top of the list is a shared 50-50 federal and state funding model for public hospitals and reducing pressure on emergency departments.

AMAQ (Australian Medical Association Queensland), the professional body for doctors and medical, is looking for a “fairer 50:50 split of state and federal” public hospital funding.

It also wants improvements to Medicare rebates, “immediate assistance” for “overflowing” emergency departments, ambulance ramping and the backlog of essential surgery.

Pressure on GPs

The AMAQ says it’s time “all major parties” recognised the pressure on GPs to keep health care affordable and accessible, as Medicare rebates have not kept pace with inflation.

Queensland Nurses and Midwives’ Union (QNMU) is one of four unions calling for “permanent shared 50-50 Commonwealth-State funding” for public hospitals.

The Together Union, United Workers Union, Electrical Trades Union and QNMU made their appeal in a Health Needs Urgent Care campaign saying the current model was “not fit for purpose”.

'Much needed'

Secretary Beth Mohle said the QNMU also wants increased aged care funding, nurse-led clinics and walk-in centres to ease pressure on emergency departments, increased Medicare reimbursement for some nursing and midwifery services and greater job security.

The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) is calling on the next federal government to give general practice care a “much-needed shot in the arm”.

RACGP President Adj. Professor Karen price said this includes federal investment in longer consultations for complex cases and funding for a new 60 minute-plus GP consultation.

Health funding

The RACGP also wants improved support for continuous and preventive care for vulnerable Australians, particularly those in aged and disability care, patients with mental health issues.

Medicare items reinstated for longer telehealth phone consultations, mental health, and GP management plans and permanent Medicare patient rebates for Level C phone consultations.

The Moreton Daily asked parties fielding candidates in this region how they would address health funding needs and their plans for Medicare:

Urgent care clinics

An Australian Labor Party spokesperson said the party would take action to increase the number of doctors in communities that are desperate for more GPs.

“An Albanese Labor Government will fund Medicare Urgent Care Clinics to be based at GP surgeries and Community Health Centres in at least 50 locations across Australia,” the spokesperson said.

“We know families are struggling to access emergency care and under pressure from rising out-of-pocket costs to see a GP which only contributes to the strain on household budgets.”

Queensland Greens pledged to bring dental into Medicare, allowing dentists to bulk bill or charge a gap and fully cover mental health under Medicare with unlimited sessions.

Investment

Invest an extra $8 billion in public hospitals through equal funding between federal and state governments, make telehealth permanent, scrap out-of-pocket costs for diagnostics and provide $371m to community-led First Nations health services.

It would be funded by reinvesting the $7 billion paid to the private health insurance industry each year back into the public system and introducing a six per cent tax on the wealth of billionaires and a super-profits tax on big corporations.

The Animal Justice Party (AJP) said it supports a universal, publicly-funded healthcare system and to phase out subsidies to intensive animal industries as well as the red and processed meat industries as they are “cruel and provide a breeding ground for new diseases which pose large public health risks”.

Policy focus

“We can divert these into education (medical practitioners, schools and adults) and better health services,” the AJP response said.

It will end “unnecessary” public funding of research on drugs that address diseases best managed by simple lifestyle choices.

Plans for Medicare include broadening the focus in health policy from just treating disease to also improving health.

'Not for profit'

Michael Balderstone, President of Nimbin HEMP Embassy & Legalise Cannabis Australia, believes legalising the drug “would save billions of dollars from the health budget.

“I believe our health should be in the not-for-profit realm and big pharmaceuticals’ war on nature’s best pain relievers should be stopped immediately.

“Cannabis should be freely available like any other medicine and people should be able to grow their own in their backyard or on their balcony.”

Other political parties contacted by the Moreton Daily did not respond by the time of publication.

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