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24 May 2019

Vigilance on private health care, on mental health, and on doctors’ own health and wellbeing will be major focuses for the AMA over the 12 months ahead.

Public hospital funding, GP funding, Indigenous health, and rural health will all remain high priorities for the Association, with its advocacy already having secured significant gains in some areas.

AMA President Dr Tony Bartone opened the AMA’s National Conference in Brisbane declaring that while a lot had been achieved in the past year, “we have a lot of important work to finish”.

His priority from day one of his presidency was general practice and primary care, and it “has paid dividends”.

“Over one billion dollars in funding for general practice was announced in the 2019-20 Budget and MYEFO – one billion dollars of funding that both sides of Parliament agreed to fund,” Dr Bartone told conference delegates during his President’s Address.

“This was no accident or lucky occurrence. We put this on the agenda.”

The AMA has called for a review of the employment models for the GP training program and it will be one of the first things to discuss with the re-elected Government.

“Another priority will be public hospitals,” Dr Bartone said.

“When governments underfund, they are making a choice to constrain the supply of public health services…

“Let me be clear – public hospital capacity is determined by funding…

“The other side of the equation – private health and private health insurance – is also unfinished business…

“We must do better. We cannot scapegoat one group and expect the problem to be resolved. If we can simplify the private health insurance products, we must be able to make rebate transparency possible as well.”

On mental health, Dr Bartone said it was largely neglected by the major political parties during the recent federal election campaign.

It has been or some time, he added.  

“I am talking about a framework and funding for mental health care,” Dr Bartone said.

“With the election out of the way, I will be spending much of the second year of my presidency talking about mental health.

“Not just talking. I will be demanding action.”

The President assured the conference that the health and wellbeing of the medical profession is a high priority for the AMA.

“This will include continuing strong action on mandatory reporting, which will involve cooperation between Federal and State AMAs,” he said.

About 200 delegates, observers and media gathered in Brisbane for the AMA’s three-day 2019 national conference.  

CHRIS JOHNSON  


Published: 24 May 2019